Saturday, 29 January 2011


The Local Government and Communities Committee rejected the Scottish Government's plans for a levy on supermarkets on 26 January 2010.  The scheme seeks to impose additional business rates on large retailers.

The Liberal Democrat MSP Jeremy Purvis moved the motion which recommended the proposal be dropped.   It was carried by five votes to three with no abstentions. 
The SNP government had planned to raise £30 million through the levy.

Why was this scheme voted down?  £30 million is a lot of money.  It seems sensible to charge Supermarkets extra to make up for the damage they have done to our town centres and small businesses.  Ok, we all use them, but their profits are obscene and they should be contributing more to their local communities.  They will pay plenty to get in and build new stores, so why not when they're built.

 Were palms greased?


Budvar said...

At the risk of being called an Imperialist oppressor (Unionist) I once voted for Winnie Ewing and was in favour of an independent Scotland once upon a time and the regionalisation of England. I now see it as nothing more than a means to divide and conquer.

Now to the subject at hand. Call me an old cynic, but all this will do is increase prices proportionally across the board to cover the added costs to Messers Sainsbury and Tesco et al. It wont be coming out of their bottom line, that you can take to the bank!!

You'll then get the equivalent of the booze cruise or in reality day trippers coming south of the border to shop in places like the Gateshead centre etc.
Take the cross-border trade between Northern and Republic of Ireland as a classic example.

I'll concede that people wont travel 300 miles from Thurso to save 3p on a tin of beans or cling peaches, but if I lived in your neck of the woods, I'd be nipping down to Carlisle every couple of months or so to stock up.

Only loser in this proposal will be the consumer.

McGonagall said...

Big Box Stores are a suicide pill to local communities. Only eejits shop there - hiya - are you an eejit?

Budvar said...

McGoners I agree in principle with what you say, and have seen the effect on town after town.

It isn't all down to the big box stores the small guys go out of business, and IMO that piece of shit legislation brought in by Thatcher called the uniform business rate is more to blame.

A little story to illustrate my point.
I knew a girl in Orkney whose mother and father retired and bought a small place with a small shop attached selling wool. The shop made fuck all, but it was something to give the mother an interest and something to do.
Along comes the uniform business rate and the council is wanting something stupid like £5k a year. It didn't turn over £100 a week let alone make that in profit, so the shop just closed never to re-open. This is why town centre shops are all boarded up, except for charity shops which are exempt.

shuggie said...

Yes the business rates are killing our small town.
Boarded up shops, estate agents, charity shops and a giant Tesco. That's about it.
Business rates should be suspended for budding entrepeneurs. Better to have the shops open and at least livening up the High Street rather than having people drive to bigger cities for shopping.
If the new shops can cover their rent then they should be left alone until their tax return indicates they can afford to be taxed.

Joe Public said...

Does anyone force people to shop at the 'Big Box Stores'?

Of course not. It's free choice.

That tax will be passed straight on to shoppers, & will therefore hit 90% of the people in Scotland. The ones who, of their own free will, prefer to take their custom there.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Budvars, I'm not sure it would come out of the shopper's pockets. Competition is so fierce between shops that they can't afford to put prices up. We had a big new Sainsbury open here in Ayr about 4 months ago. It was quite busy at first, because we hadn't had one before, but now is like a ghost town as people realise how expensive it is. £30m spread over all the out of town stores and it would presumably apply as well to McDonalds, Currys et al.wouldn't make a huge difference to them, but could make a difference if used properly to the Scottish people.

Dark Lochnagar said...

McGonners, I agree and I try and shop local as much as possible, but like everyone else and particularly people with busy lives, it's convenient to get everything in one shop.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Budvars, the trouble is the rates and also high rents. You see viable small shops shutting down everyday. We had a fish shop in Ayr some 25 years ago. The main business spent £60k in shopfitting it out and although it was busy, we had to make a £1000 per week PROFIT, just to pay the rates and rent, before anything else was paid. It just wasn't viable and would have been less so, with supermarkets now selling fish. Perhaps a better idea would be to license these stores to sell certain things to protect local small businesses, like fruiterers and newsagents.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Shuggers, Welcome to the blog. I would go along with that. Let shops have a 3-5 year rate free spell until they get established. What's the difference, they're charity shops now anyway paying fuck all.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Publes, in some ways people who work or have kids and don't have the time to park and walk to individual shops are forced to shop there. Maybe, if they put their prices up, then people would be encouraged to shop locally.

shuggie said...

Joe said..

" The ones who, of their own free will, prefer to take their custom there."

Not in reality. In reality the bigger shops force the smaller shops out of business. They will offer the same services as local shops ( fishmonger, baker, newsagent, dry cleaning, photo printing, butcher, petrol etc. )Once they've stopped customers using the smaller shop they will then look again at the facilities they provide and close it if it's not profitable. If a small entrepeneur decides to open a fishmonger etc then the larger shop will re open it's fish counter etc. The overall plan is to provide everything that a shopper needs to stop the chance of losing footfall.
So although you think you have a choice, in reality you're being used. This is why town centres are closing down and bright new supermarkets are the only source of work in the retail sector.
Studies have shown that the actual work provided by supermnarkets doesn't equal the amount of work or expertise that used to prevail with the myriad of specialist shops in the past.

Dioclese said...

We used to have two rates of Corporation Tax in the UK - 20% for small business and 40% for large. For some reason this has been set to a single rate of 28%.

If we went back to the old one I think this would solve the problem.

Wake up Osbourne! There's a budget coming...

Budvar said...

The thing with the "Free rate spell" is that at the end of the spell, the business either moves premises across the street or the business name changes (on paper) starting another "Free rate spell".

We have this system but only for a year but it's not so much as free rate but deferred, and this is how it works in practice.

A better system would be to reduce the rates to something like £500 a year instead of £5k for businesses under a arbitrary sq/ftage. 10 businesses paying £500 is better than none paying £5k and it has the advantage of revitalising town centres so people want to shop there.

There are other issues too like town centre parking. Town centres since the 60s have turned into a sea of one way systems, pedestrianised zones and double yellows. It's about time that town planners started earning their over inflated pay cheques for the benefit of the people and not to justify their job and existence by pointlessly fucking about with stuff for no reason.

Billy said...

Budvar - Parking is not a problem. People here in Paisley moan about the parking but there is plenty of parking. What is wrong is they are mostly lazy bastards, who want to park right outside the door of the shop they are visiting rather than walk from a car park. Some of us who have problems walking manage fine enough but these people always have their excuses for their lazyness.

Totally agree with regard to the rates - all the smaller shops in town should not have to pay any rates. I have been saying this for years as well - what is the point of having business rates and the resultant empty shops - better to have lots of shops employing people.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Shuggers, as I said earlier if we said to the supermarkets, look cunts you are grocers, if you want to be fishmongers, newsagents etc then you have to be licensed the same way as you are for drink. If we have enough fishmongers in a town, then you're not getting a license or we might give you one on a yearly basis. That would cut out the way they sell, but I wonder how long it would take for local politicians to be bribed. If they ere found to do that, they would be banned from an area for say 10 years and they wouldn't be allowed to politic in the local community.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Greekers, that would make sense. After all we're all supposed to be in this together, so those stores with the deepest pockets should pay the most.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Budders, Why don't they pay a fixed percentage of their turnover. That way a business can anticipate what the viability of the business will be. In bad times they pay less and in good more.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Billy, Ayr some years ago was in the Guinness book of Records for having the highest per capita spend anywhere in the UK in the High Street. Then what happened. Somebody let those pricks in the planning dept. get a hold of it and decided to pedestrianise it and now it's a charity shop special with the odd chain and closed shops. They want to take those fuckers out and shoot them.

Billy said...

Aye but how many people from Ayr, like Paisley, go to places like Braehead and then moaned when all the shops disappeared from their own town.

The streets that were pedestrianised in Paisley were far too small for the amount of traffic that tried to go through them and they are better now for shopping in - only the shops have gone.

Actually I think that things are going to change when the price of oil gets too expensive as everything will have to move back into a more central location as hardly anyone will be able to afford to travel to stupid out of town shopping centres.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Billy, Ayr High street was wide enough to have cars parked down one side. I remember driving home one lunchtime after a XMAS do having drunk 23 Whiskys and 4 half pints. I know that fact because the barmaid was counting them and had actually phoned me a taxi when I jumped in my car and proceeded to drive up the high street, but you could just about get away with that in he 70s. My point being that the High Street couldn't have been that narrow if I managed to drive up it pissed.

I totally agree with your point on oil though. Have you read a book called, Confronting Collapse by Michael C Ruppert?

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