Finance Secretary Derek Mackay will visit Aberdeen on Friday to discuss his plans to raise business rates, the Evening Express can reveal.
The visit comes after Mr Mackay was sent a joint letter complaining that savage rises – in some cases more than quadrupling the amount businesses must pay – would be the final nail in the coffin for many firms.
The delegation seeking to meet the finance boss was to be headed by Aberdeen City Council finance convener Willie Young, council leader Jenny Laing, Aberdeen Inspired chief executive Adrian Watson, Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce (AGCC) and Knight Frank Commercial Property Agents.
But the visit comes with what has been seen as a snub, because Mr Mackay has only invited AGCC chief executive Russell Borthwick to the meeting.
A Scottish Government spokesman said the council could fund rates reductions – but has not addressed the request for central government funding to let it do this.
He said: “Each council retains all the business rates revenue it collects, and it is for councils to apply rates reductions, on top of existing statutory reliefs, as they see fit.
“Individual business rate payers can appeal their valuation via independent processes if they feel it is incorrect.
“Finance Secretary Derek Mackay will be in Aberdeen to meet Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce on Friday to discuss this issue further.”
Aberdeen City Council finance convener Willie Young accused Mr Mackay of trying to pass the buck.
He said: “Mr Mackay has to understand Aberdeen is the lowest-funded council in Scotland.
“How exactly does he think we can help businesses when these rates make up two-thirds of our entire budget?”
James Bream, research and policy director of the AGCC, said: “The chamber, along with a range of business partners, wrote to the Finance Secretary requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the detrimental and potentially devastating impact increases in business rates are going to have. We look forward to hearing what support can be given.”