First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined plans on Sunday to help local businesses and high streets recover from the pandemic if the SNP is re-elected.
Ms Sturgeon outlined a package of measures to support businesses to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
• 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation sectors this year; an investment of £719m.
• £275m over the life of the parliament to support community-led regeneration and town centre revitalisations and support the development of “20-minute neighbourhoods” where residents can access the shops and facilities they need within a 20-minute walk.
• A £10m “Scotland Loves Local” fund to encourage people to shop locally when they can, helping keep wealth within their community.
The SNP has also committed to the creation of liveable, accessible places, with thriving local economies, where people can meet their daily needs within a 20-minute walk.
The First Minister said:
“We’ll never be able to thank businesses and their employees enough for the sacrifices they have made to help control the virus.
“Revitalising our town centres and communities was already a priority of the SNP Government before the pandemic struck and that agenda is now even more essential.
“The SNP Government has already gone further than the UK Government by extending 100% rates relief for the hardest-hit sectors for a full twelve months.
“If re-elected, we will invest £275 million over the life of the parliament to support community-led regeneration and town centre revitalisation, as well as the development of 20-minute neighbourhoods.
“On top of this significant investment, we can each help our communities, protecting and creating local jobs, by spending locally when we can, and we’ll build on our “Scotland Loves Local” campaign to highlight the many benefits of doing so.”
Kenneth Gibson added:
“Town centres have suffered horrendously from reduced footfall and loss of trade this past year. This huge £719 million in rates relief support from the SNP Government - of which there is no equivalent elsewhere in the UK - is very welcome, as is the £275 million investment in our high streets.
“Other SNP commitments, such as compulsory sales orders, to ensure derelict buildings held speculatively are auctioned if not put to productive use after three years, will help revitalise our high streets too.
“Of course, if we had the powers to do so – they are reserved to Westminster – we could enable our high streets to compete more effectively and thrive more easily by rebalancing the tax burden between online and on street retailers, creating a much more level playing field. However, without the devolution of such powers only independence will deliver that much needed boost.”