Date lodged: 17 May 2017
To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to encourage growth in the retail sector.
Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 24 May 2017
The Scottish Government recognises the value of a successful and vibrant retail sector and regularly engages with the Scottish Retail Consortium and other key stakeholders across a wide range of policy priorities.
In the face of recognised challenges to high street retailers caused by growth in e-commerce, inflationary pressures and the impact of austerity, we encourage growth by providing various mechanisms of support to the sector, including a highly competitive non-domestic rates package, with the average rateable value of retail units having reduced at the 2017 revaluation by over 1%. We have also cut the business rates poundage by 3.7%, lifted around 8,000 properties out of being liable to pay the large business supplement, and of course we have expanded the Small Business Bonus Scheme, which now saves up to £6,990 per property; annually, with 100,000 properties paying no rates at all overall almost two-thirds of shops benefit from some form of rates relief funded by the Scottish Government. In addition, we have also implemented powers for local authorities to further reduce rates through local rates relief schemes under the provisions of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.
We further support the retail sector by promoting investment and economic growth in town centres through the Town Centre Action Plan, and support for Scotland’s Towns Partnership to stimulate action locally amongst the wider public, private and community sectors.