A better deal for businesses in Aberdeen

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Aberdeen is a fantastic place to live and work. The city has a vibrant and diverse population which is continuing to grow. 

However, there can be no doubt that the downturn in the oil and gas sector has impacted the ability of many businesses to be as successful as they once were.

The Scottish Government recognised this and in the Scottish budget earlier this year £7.5 million of rates relief for businesses across our city was provided. This includes a national relief capping rates increases for hotels, pubs, cafés and restaurants, but also a 12.5 per cent cap on increases for office space here in the city and in Aberdeenshire.

The cap on office space was a clear signal from the SNP government that they are listening to business in the North East and that they are determined to help.

So, have the Labour, Tory and Independent coalition which runs our city also been listening?

The answer appears to be quite simple: no.

Since the rates review began many businesses, and their umbrella organisations, have lobbied councillors for support. After all, under the terms of the Community Empowerment Act we have new powers to support business.

The SNP Group on Aberdeen City Council twice put forward proposals for £4 million of business rates relief.

On both occasions, the Labour, Tory and Independent coalition voted against our plans – despite the fact they are currently sitting on a £3.08 million budget surplus.

Businesses in Aberdeen deserve better.

It appears that those councillors who currently run our city would rather see businesses struggle just so they can blame the Scottish Government.

On top of this, councillors have just been advised that the Business Rates Incentivisation Scheme, introduced by the Scottish Government just a few years ago to reward those councils who attract business to their area, has provided Aberdeen City Council with an additional £3.4 million of funding.

This is money which the council had not expected to receive and money which makes it so much easier to implement a rates relief scheme.

The time has come for action, not words. With a £3.08 million surplus and £3.4 million of additional cash from the Scottish Government, the council must act to support businesses in Aberdeen.

Only the SNP appear willing to do so.

Stephen Flynn is an SNP candidate for Aberdeen City Council in the Kincorth, Nigg and Cove ward.

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