Scottish Government’s decision not to emulate the Chancellor’s business rates is “crippling” businesses, the Tories have said.

Jeremy Hunt announced an extension of 75% relief for firms in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector in his autumn statement last year, meaning £230 million would be sent to Scotland due to the area being devolved.

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But the Scottish Government decided not to do the same in a budget where ministers were wrestling with a £1.5 billion black hole.

(Image: Scottish Conservative Party Meghan Gallacher MSP (Image: PA))

On a campaign visit today, Scottish Tory deputy leader Meghan Gallacher, said: “The SNP Government are crippling Scottish businesses by failing to pass on the rates relief available to firms south of the border.

“The UK Government has provided the funding for them to do so, yet Kate Forbes, John Swinney and Shona Robison have chosen not to help Scottish businesses that are desperately trying to get back on their feet post-pandemic.

“The SNP’s anti-business agenda is costing jobs and livelihoods, particularly in the retail and hospitality sectors, because firms are operating at a competitive disadvantage.

“It’s all the more galling for Scottish businesses located close to the border, because they can see the huge godsend the Chancellor’s 75% rates relief is to their peers and rivals in England.”

An analysis by the Fraser of Allander institute published in December, ahead of the budget, said modelling they had conducted showed the cost of passing on the relief could be as high as £360 million.

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Responding to Ms Gallacher, SNP candidate Alyn Smith, said: “Thanks to the small business bonus, introduced by the SNP Scottish Government, 100,000 businesses pay no rates – a prime example of how the SNP are standing up for businesses.

“But businesses in Scotland do indeed face a huge problem – the damaging Brexit people here voted overwhelmingly to reject.

“The Tories and the Labour Party can’t back business and back Brexit at the same time.

“The Tories’ can try as hard as they want to distract from the economic devastation their Brexit fantasy has imposed, but we won’t let them shirk responsibility, nor will we let their Brexit supporting Westminster colleagues in Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour party off the hook.”

First Minister John Swinney said earlier today that the SNP will include a social tariff on energy, broadband and mobile bills in its manifesto - which launches on Wednesday. 

It comes after the Scottish Liberal Democrats published their manifesto today, which included plans to introduce a carer’s minimum wage with a £2 an hour boost, as well as fast-tracking access to mental health counsellors in schools.

The party also said that an additional £1b in capital funding would come to Scotland through Barnett consequential which could be used to tackle the housing emergency and local health facilities across the country.