The reduction in business rates includes the £10 million Scottish share of the rates measure announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget speech today.
The full text of today's question and answer is: MR GEORGE KYNOCH: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on non-domestic rates for 1994-95.
MR IAN LANG: 'The Government remain firmly committed to the objective of reducing Scottish business rates to the level of the English national non-domestic rate (NNDR). I intend to prescribe rate poundages for 1994-95 at a level which will mean that Scottish businesses will pay £60 million less than they would otherwise have done next year.
As a result of the Government's unified business rates policy and our earlier decision to limit increases in poundages to no more than the rate of inflation from 1989-90 onwards, the total reduction in Scottish business rates is now around £500 million.
The table below shows the 1994-95 rate poundages which I intend to prescribe for each local authority in an Order which I shall lay before the House very shortly. On the basis of those poundages, rate payers in Berwickshire, Tweeddale, Moray and Gordon will join those in Kincardine and Deeside, Orkney and Shetland in being levied rates at the English NNDR level. Businesses in all other areas will have a cash reduction in their rates. All businesses benefit from the fact that, because of the low level of inflation, 1993-94 poundages have been uprated by only 1.7%.
I have again decided to make larger reductions to those poundages furthest from the English NNDR. As a result, the poundage reductions in real terms range from over 9.5% in the case of Glasgow to 0.25% in the case of Gordon.
Local authorities are being asked to contribute by means of efficiency savings £12.5 million to the £60 million reduction in business rates. The remaining £47.5 million reduction in non-domestic rate income will be off-set by an increase in revenue support grant within the total of Aggregate External Finance for Scottish local authorities for 1994-95 which I have announced separately today. I have decided that the reduction in poundages should again be accompanied by a reduction in industrial derating. The level of derating will be reduced from 17.5% in the current year to 10.0% next year.'