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Scottish car dealers call for 'war on red tape'

Scottish dealers are calling for a war on red tape and taxation from political leaders in Holyrood and Westminster after giving their support for a ‘No’ vote in the country’s historic referendum.

In last month’s vote, reflecting the wishes of the majority of Scottish voters, dealers revealed that they wanted to remain part of the UK, giving their views beforehand in a pre-referendum poll run by Sewells Research & Insight.

However, dealers have announced that there is a price for their loyalty by listing the business priorities they want politicians to consider to keep the economy on track.

One of the most common requirements from dealers is a taxation system that is ‘built for business’.

Managing directors and dealer principals are most vocal, calling for ‘a substantial reduction in legislation and red tape’, with one managing director who employs more than 20 people saying: “Reducing the amount of red tape we have to deal with will help our business grow by allowing us to spend more time focusing on generating revenue and providing good customer service rather than dealing with paperwork.”

Others called for business incentives, particularly a cut in the rate of VAT from 20% to its historic level of 17.5%.

According to senior dealer executives north of the border, the priority is to act swiftly to make the most of the political momentum and bargaining power that Scotland has generated during the independence debate.

One dealer principal said: “There needs to be a maintained focus on Scotland, given the sudden surge in visits from all political parties.”

Scotland is already set to have greater tax raising powers in 2016 and the Conservative Party announced in the past week that it plans to give Holyrood full tax-raising powers if it wins the next General Election in 2015.

This could be an opportunity to create a fairer system for shared wealth, some dealers argue.

One managing director of a dealer employing more than 100 people said: “This is the time to ensure there is a fair deal for the Scottish people by ensuring there is more investment in services for everyone.”

Another added: “There needs to be a fair taxation level through all employment brackets. Get more from the super-rich and get them to keep their money in Scotland and stop hiding from the taxman.

“I could see benefit if Scotland went to Scandinavian-style tax rates where they are fixed across all employment brackets and welfare is directed back to workers and tax-payers, while tackling benefit cheats.”

However, dealers have shown through their votes that, above all, they want stability that will protect their businesses and future employment opportunities.

One dealer warned: “Politicians must find some way to kill the indecision that could hold us back for the next three years. Currently I don’t see any real answers to improve the economy in the future.”

For the survey, Sewells Research & Insight spoke to more than 140 dealer staff in Scotland in companies of all sizes, with respondents ranging from board level executives including company chairmen, through to sales executives. Views were given anonymously.

A spokesman for Sewells Research & Insight said: “Now that dealers and their employees have shown their commitment to remaining part of the UK, they want to see stability and economic growth in return. Politicians will be expected to deliver on their promises and provide the prosperity they argued was a key part of remaining within the union.”

> Scottish dealers' views on the independence issue

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