Shops and pubs voice support for health levy on large retailers

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By a Newsnet reporter
 
The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) and Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) have both backed the Scottish government’s plan to impose a ‘health tax’ on large retail outlets who sell tobacco and alcohol.
 
Both organisations praised the proposal and said it would provide a more level playing field between large and small retailers.

SGF chief executive John Drummond said: “When you consider the benefits from new road systems enjoyed by the supermarkets, with business rates per square foot much cheaper than smaller stores with limited or no car parking and town centre congestion, this is a welcome attempt to create more of a level playing field.”

“The government has identified a fair and reasonable way to raise money in this very difficult economic climate.”

SLTA chief executive Paul Waterson argued the health levy would not push up prices and said: “The Scottish public are not stupid, they already know they have been subsidising the cheap drink promotions offered by supermarkets by over-inflated prices for food, whether they consume alcohol or not.

The levy is estimated to generate £110m over three years; £30m in its first year, with £40m expected in each of the next two years.

Dave Thompson, SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said:

“The SNP is committed to supporting growth for all businesses – large and small.

“It’s fantastic to hear corner shops, pubs and restaurants are all backing the Scottish Government’s plans to increase business rates for large retailers who sell alcohol and tobacco.

“And it is even more pleasing to hear they think this will benefit Scottish retailers and businesses in the long-term by creating a more level playing field.”

Speaking on radio Scotland yesterday Andrew Opie of the British Retail Consortium claimed it would be virtually impossible to pass the cost of the levy onto consumers.