RETAILERS have raised concerns over future reverse vending costs adding to a rising rates burden in a call to Holyrood.

The Scottish Retail Consortium raised the concern in its six-page submission to the local government and communities committee on the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill, while praising plans for more regular commercial property revaluations.

It said the retail industry is Scotland’s largest private sector employer, providing almost 250,000 jobs and accounting for a fifth of business rates paid.

The SRC’s members include high street, edge-of-town, online and grocery retailers and says the system has been “bedevilled by ad hoc rates”.

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It said the Scottish retail is an industry in transition amid a drop in the number of shops and retail jobs over recent years.

The Scottish Parliament is moving to reform the system and called for feedback on the plans for non-domestic rates, which are levied on business properties, determined by the assessed value of the building, and the second-highest source of tax income for the Scottish Government.

The SRC said the Bill shows “tangible headway is being made on reforming the business rates system” and backed three-yearly revaluations, but called for a medium-term plan to lower the rate burden as well as a moratorium on any new levies or supplements.

It also said planned deposit schemes could mean a potential upfront cost of up to £100 million.

The SRC said: “At present it is unclear what financial support package will be forthcoming for the purchasing and installation of these (reverse vending) machines.

“We are concerned these mandated changes could be classed as improvements and consequently affect the rateable value of the shops and other premises which host them.”

The SRC said: “The thrust of the Bill is positive, however this should not be the limit of our ambition as progress on business rates overall remains uneven.

“The overall burden remains onerous, with many ratepayers liable for the headline rate, plus the large firms’ supplement, and a business improvement district levy on top.

“Rates are at their highest for 20 years, and retailers witnessed a further £13.2m uplift in their annual rates bills in April 2019, hindering their ability to reinvent themselves for the future.”