The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has warned that the removal of sporting rates relief will have devastating consequences for rural Scotland and will damage rural livelihoods, conservation, jobs and tourism. BASC has published evidence revealing the far-reaching and negative unintended consequences the plans will have for Scotland.
The Land Reform (Scotland) Bill proposes the reintroduction of sporting rates for shoots and deer forests. Much of shooting in Scotland is run as much as a recreation as a business and 88% of shooting businesses either break even or run at a loss. This additional tax burden –equivalent to an increase of up to 58% on employment related tax burdens – would result in shoot closures and job losses in rural Scotland which is already vulnerable in terms of social and economic disadvantage. Job losses in these areas would hit local communities particularly hard.
The impacts of shoot closures would spread throughout the supply chain, having a negative effect on shooting-related businesses such as game dealers, but also the food and hospitality sector which are supported, in some cases wholly, by shooting-related tourism.
The economic value of the conservation work undertaken by shoot providers in Scotland is estimated in a recent study (The Value of Shooting report) as £35 million and this far outweighs the amount which would be levied by Sporting Rates. If shoots close, this private investment of time and money into conservation work would no longer continue, and would be impossible to replace without considerable Government expenditure.
The negative consequences of this decision apply not just to employers, shoots, shoot employees, rural communities and supply chain businesses – they also apply to government itself. Government will lose taxes and national insurance from both employers and employees. They will lose VAT from the sale of products – shooting and shooting-related products in the supply chain. Furthermore, government would incur additional costs on benefits to support those who will lose their jobs. The Scottish government may also have to spend more on land management to counter the loss of the private investment of time and money currently provided by shoots.
Colin Shedden, Director of BASC Scotland said:
“Legislation needs to be based on good evidence and the evidence clearly demonstrates that the reintroduction of Sporting Rates will have far reaching negative unintended consequences for rural Scotland. We will be pushing the Scottish Government to reconsider these ill-conceived proposals.”
Alan Balfour, BASC’s Scottish Committee Chairman, said:
“Shooting is worth £200 million to the Scottish economy every year. This money benefits local businesses, local tourism, local communities and local conservation efforts. The Scottish Government’s plans put this valuable investment in jeopardy. Estates will not be the only ones affected by this new legislation the costs will be passed down to lease holders and small syndicates making shooting inaccessible to ordinary people.”