Salmond Issues Budget Warning Poor Business Support
Former First Minister and ALBA Party leader, Alex Salmond, has urged the Scottish Government not to allow businesses in the rest of the UK to gain a competitive advantage over Scotland.
Mr Salmond says that yesterday’s Draft budget threatens to create a set of circumstances that highlight better support for businesses in England and Wales over Scotland.
When Mr Salmond was First Minister, Labour Peer George Foulkes said that in Scotland Alex Salmond’s Government was intentionally creating better services to boost the case for independence.
Salmond fears that the Scottish Government is now in danger of letting the reverse argument hold sway.
He has urged the Scottish Government to think again on its decision not to match the business rate relief prevailing south of the Border. The former First Minister says that building a strong case for independence “starts with the foundation of a competent Government that doesn’t let important sectors of the economy believe they would get a better deal from a Tory UK Government.”
“For example, Hospitality businesses on Scotland’s islands will get 100% non domestic rates relief capped at £110k but the rest of Scotland’s hospitality businesses will receive no relief, although poundage has been frozen for all businesses up to a value of up to £51k.
“In England hospitality businesses received a 75% rates relief package and Wales has revealed a 40% relief package for hospitality.
“Over the past few months Scottish hospitality trade bodies have lobbied government with regard to the financial pressures that the industry is under, but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
Salmond says that the “Scottish Government’s decision not to prioritise rates relief will risk the continuation of closures of Scottish hospitality businesses running at double the rate of that in England.
Commenting former First Minister and Alba Party leader Alex Salmond said:
“ The Government I led improved the lives of people across Scotland and established the social contract that protects our universal entitlement to free tuition, prescriptions and many more vital services. For much of the period from 2007 Scottish growth and employment rates outperformed those of the UK for the first time in generations, much of it led by small business benefiting from very generous rates relief.
“We made more progress in a short period than Labour had made for Scotland in several decades. One of the most important aspects of how we built the case for independence was to show people that we governed competently and created manifestly better services in Scotland - something I readily agreed with Lord Foulkes that I was doing on purpose!
“ The Draft Budget, if it is not amended, will leave a key sector of Scottish business in a worse position than those south of the Border. Not only does that risk job losses, threaten supply chains and further diminishment to our town and city centres, it is politically naive.
“ If you want to build a case for independence you can’t allow Scottish medium and large businesses to claim they would be better treated under the Tories in England or even Labour in Wales. The current budget is certainly challenging, largely down to the poor fiscal framework the Scottish Government allowed themselves to be conned into, but there has to be improvement in this particular area or an important sector to Scotland’s economy will be left behind and the case for independence further damaged.”