By Scott Wright

THE Scottish Government should consider cutting tax on income and property purchases to stimulate the economy following the shock caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The proposals are among several tabled by the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) in its submission to an expert working group set up to advise ministers on how Scotland can bounce back from coronavirus after the outbreak subsides. The UK economy is expected to have moved into recession in the second quarter.

Providing direct cash payments to less affluent consumers and abolishing parking charges to encourage people to return to town centres have also been floated by the SRC to the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery, which is chaired by banking veteran Benny Higgins.

The SRC suggests business rates relief, introduced to help shops deal with the dramatic fall in sales sparked by the lockdown, should be gradually phased out to prevent an immediate rise in costs for retailers. And it recommends a one-year moratorium on new public policy initiatives unrelated to Covid-19, and a delay on implementing existing measures to allow retailers to focus on recovery.

Retail sales plunged more than 40 per cent during the four weeks to May 2 compared with the same period last year, figures from the SRC show. SRC head of policy Ewan MacDonald-Russell said “there is a slew of evidence which indicates retailers will face the toughest trading conditions this century once the country emerges from lockdown.”

He added: “The Scottish Government must take bold and imaginative steps to deliver an economic stimulus package which will drive the economy on the road to recovery.”