Aberdeen City Council’s SNP group has slammed the Labour-led administration for failing to provide business rates support in its budget.
The Scottish Government announced a 12.5% cap on increases to business rates for the hospitality sector as part of a national relief package.
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay also confirmed office premises in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire will benefit from new relief, capping any rates increases at 12.5% due to the local downturn.
Some North-east businesses had seen the rates they were due to pay rocket by up to 200%.
Council leader Jenny Laing said, in light of the announcement, a report will be brought back to the next meeting of the finance, policy and resources committee to provide a “measured response” to the latest developments.
But in its budget proposals – which were not passed – the SNP group put forward £4 million of business rates relief.
Group leader Stephen Flynn accused the administration of failing to match its rhetoric with action.
The scheme would have capped any rates increases for the hospitality sector at 3% and would also cap retail and manufacturing rates at 12.5%.
But Conservative councillor Alan Donnelly scorned the SNP in a heated debate where he said the party’s councillors adhere to their “masters” in Edinburgh.
He said: “I watched the shenanigans in the Scottish Parliament after six weeks of companies up in arms over 55% increases, £10,000 a month, when their income is down by about 50%.
“Where were SNP councillors? Doing absolutely nothing.”
And finance convener Willie Young accused the SNP of being “Nicola Sturgeon’s puppets”.
He said: “They want to support business rates through council taxpayers money.”
Cllr Young added he had obtained legal advice that shows the Scottish Government has the power to make differences in business rates to different areas.
He said: “The Scottish Government should use the powers they have got to make sure our businesses in Aberdeen are fully protected.”
Cllr Flynn said the administration’s failure to provide business rates relief was “nothing but duplicity” from the Labour and Conservative parties.
He said: “They have spent weeks talking about support for local businesses but when it came to matching that rhetoric with actions they have simply walked away.
“Labour and their Tory minions have been completely and utterly dishonest in their approach to this situation.
“After spending weeks slagging off the Scottish Government, saying that the Government doesn’t care about the local economy, they haven’t included a single penny in their budget to support our local businesses.
“It is shameful and it is a betrayal to every single business person who they falsely gave hope to.
“Our council officers did a great job to give us all the information and options we needed.
“Their input meant that the SNP were able to outline a level of support for businesses that would have helped them during these difficult times.
“I cannot fathom what was going through the minds of the Labour and Tory politicians in this council for them to completely ignore all of that.”