Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has claimed that the credibility of the Tories “lies in tatters” following their backtrack on the issue of devolving non-domestic rates to local authorities.
The Tories, who this week voted against a Green Party amendment to devolve business rates, had previously supported the same proposal at stage 2 – a move that would have removed rates relief and seen small businesses facing a rates hike of over £7000.
In the last year alone, more than 100,000 Scottish businesses saved nearly £300m from rates relief introduced by the Scottish Government.
Commenting, Mr Stevenson said: “This is a humiliating U-turn by the Tories, and highlights the strength of opposition from the Scottish business sector to their initial decision to support the devolution of business rates to local authorities.
“I received numerous e-mails and letters from business organisations extremely concerned at the consequences had the proposal gone through. The effects locally in the North-east would have been devastating.
“Whilst I am glad that the Tories have finally come to their senses, it is a damning indictment of their lack of commitment to Scottish businesses that they would be willing to cause such uncertainty in an attempt to score cheap political points.
“At stage 2 of the bill, the Tories voted to jeopardise local funding for councils and abolish rates relief worth £300m for over 100,000 businesses across Scotland. Between this shocking decision, and the untold damage and uncertainty that Brexit is causing to businesses across the country, the reputation of the Tories as “the party of business” lies in absolute tatters.
“Far from being a party fit for government, the Tories show with each passing day that they are not even fit for opposition.”