The UK’s Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) has joined the call to oppose the Scottish government’s proposal to introduce a business rate surtax on grocery stores. 

This proposal, mentioned in the national Budget 2024-25, aims to address a financial shortfall in the devolved administration but has sparked significant unease within the retail sector. 

Stores would be required to raise an additional £1bn in sales each year to cover the cost of the new surtax, retail leaders have warned.  

It would also see stores pay extra if they sold alcohol or tobacco from their premises. 

Retail leaders also fear that the proposal, if implemented, would hinder investment and job creation in Scotland.  The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) has already voiced its opposition to the plans. 

Usdaw Scotland regional secretary Tracy Gilbert said: “This arbitrary move could exacerbate the challenges facing retail. It could well have significant unintended consequences, particularly if it impacted on the amount available to retailers to invest in training budgets or colleague bonuses.” 

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By GlobalData

SRC director David Lonsdale said: “Usdaw’s intervention shows that a growing range of voices from across Scotland’s retail industry are expressing serious doubts about the wisdom of introducing a new tax on food retailers.  

“A new surtax would be a retrograde step and firmly at odds with the government’s New Deal for Business. Grocers already face a swathe of upcoming new regulations and have also been lumbered with huge costs as a result of the deposit return scheme farrago.  

“Now they face an additional tax which even the Scottish government admits is little more than a cash grab. We hope Scottish ministers take heed and shelve the surtax.”