here was one minor and one big surprise in the Scottish government’s latest budget, which was set out by Kate Forbes, the finance secretary, last week.

The minor surprise was the Sturgeon administration’s decision to provide less business rates relief, in comparison with England, to the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors during the next financial year. Businesses in Scotland will be eligible for 50 per cent relief, capped at £27,500 per ratepayer, but only for the first three months of the 2022-23 financial year. In England, the same businesses will be eligible for 50 per cent relief for the whole financial year.

A winding down of rates relief was anticipated, but the full withdrawal of support just three months into the next financial year was unexpected. It reinforced the sense, especially pertinent in Scotland since Nicola Sturgeon replaced Alex Salmond as first minister, that business and enterprise is a long way down the list of Scottish government priorities.

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