Business owners in Stonehaven have been told that they have the support of their local MP and MSPs, following the news last week that some businesses in the town are facing a rates increase of more than 100% from April.
Mairi Evans MSP and Staurt Donaldson MP both met with local hotel owners Sheila and Frank Howarth last week to pledge their support, while Liam Kerr MSP has written to Finance Secretary Derek Mackay to plead their case.
A number of hoteliers and guest house owners in Stonehaven in particular have spoken out about the potential impact on their businesses, with warnings of job cuts and companies going to the wall.
However, the rates rises are also hitting offices, shops, industrial premises and even pre-school nurseries in the local area.
Mairi Evans MSP said: “Small businesses are crucial to the Aberdeenshire economy and I want to support them as much as possible to not only survive but to thrive.
“That’s why I met with business owners in Stonehaven last week and welcome any person who has concerns over their rates to contact me. In the first instance, we need to ensure that they have been correctly assessed by the independent surveyors.
“I will be asking both Aberdeenshire Council and Scottish Government what actions can and will be taken to mitigate against the impact of the new values whilst appeals are being considered.
Stuart Donaldson MP added: “Along with my colleague Mairi Evans MSP, we met some of the local business people to discuss their concerns over business rates. We both know how vital small businesses are to Aberdeenshire and how much of a driving force tourism is to the local community and want to help in any way we can.
Meanwhile Scottish Conservative MSP Liam Kerr has written to Mr Mackay urging support from the Scottish Government for firms facing rises of up to 250%.
Mr Kerr, a North East Region MSP, said: “My mailbag and email inbox are overflowing with correspondence from business people in the North East who fear their livelihoods are being put at risk due to these crippling increases in rates. I have written to the Cabinet Secretary to plead for Scottish Government action on this. I am aware that Mr Mackay spoke about a local solution to the problem, with councils rather than government stepping in.
“I sincerely hope a solution can be found, as this could be the end of the road for many firms.”