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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

S5O-01956: Annie Wells (Glasgow)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 21 March 2018

To ask the Scottish Government what action it will take to prevent further shop closures in Glasgow city centre.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 28 March 2018

The Scottish Government recognises that the retail sector in Scotland is transforming in response to, among other things, significant changes to shopping habits and through new technology. We are aware that some retailers are choosing to consolidate their portfolios and re-structure their organisations to remain competitive. Regretfully some stores are closing, not only in Glasgow, but across Scotland and the UK and in Scotland, w e will continue to offer support for any employees facing redundancy through our Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) initiative.

We recognise the value of a successful and vibrant retail sector and regularly engage with the Scottish Retail Consortium and other key stakeholders across a wide range of policy priorities. We are aware that UK Government austerity measures and Brexit are affecting consumer confidence and spending. Despite this, we are doing everything within our powers to support our economy, including our retailers. For example, this year we will enhance measures to support both new development and re-use of vacant property in town centres and elsewhere as part of a total rates relief package of around £720 million. This includes the Small Business Bonus Scheme which will lift over 100,000 properties out of rates altogether. In addition, we are taking forward the Scotland's Town Centre First principle in planning and implementing the Town Centre action plan, while working with the Scottish Retail Consortium to develop a retail strategy which will set out a clear road map for future tax and regulatory changes.

We will continue to use all levers at our disposal to ensure that Scotland remains an attractive place for retailers to do business.