Big Business and Corporations

First minister accused of using big business as ‘a cash cow’

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Nicola Sturgeon was yesterday accused of using big business as “a cash cow” as she attempted to defend her move to hike rates for larger companies.

The first minister came under fire during the final televised leaders’ debate ahead of this Thursday’s Holyrood election. However, she was unashamed in her backing for her business rate policy, in which larger firms will pay more than they would south of the border.

Defending it, Ms Sturgeon said: “The hike in business rates is a 3.4 per cent increase for the very largest businesses. The kind of businesses we are talking about are RBS, Amazon, Diageo, the BBC.

“That’s the 13 per cent of businesses which are the largest businesses. I think that’s the fair and progressive thing to do — asking our largest businesses to pay a little more whilst lifting our smallest businesses out of business rates altogether.”

Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, said that under Ms Sturgeon’s party, business rates had gone up massively.

She said: “They’ve been using them as a cash cow for their government. No wonder businesses are struggling. No wonder unemployment is going up.”

Last week, in an unprecedented move, five of Scotland’s biggest industry groups came together to condemn the business rate plans.

During the last parliament, Ms Sturgeon doubled the supplement that big and medium-sized businesses have to pay on top of their annual business rates.