The Scottish Government’s budget for 2015-16 “delivers a fair deal for the people of the Borders”, according to Finance Secretary John Swinney.
But the much heralded Land and Buildings Transaction Tax, which from April 2015 will replace Scottish Stamp Duty and is expected to see 49,000 buyers pay less tax on new homes, could prove to be the tipping point for some local farms.
Berwickshire MSP John Lamont, (Conservative) is concerned that with non-residential taxation rising to 4.5% for commercial property, including Borders farms that have high quality arable land, many farms being sold would fall in the higher taxation bracket, and some farms could see as much as a 6% or £10,000 rise in their tax bill.
“The devil will be in the detail,” said Mr Lamont, “but the budget does appear to be a considerable tax rise on arable farms being sold in the Borders.”
“I welcome the reduction in taxes for residential properties, but this has come at the expense of tax rises on larger arable farm, many of which are located in the Borders.”
“The Borders economy needs a buoyant agricultural property market and putting extra tax on farms will not help that.”
Focussing on the positives for the region, Mr Swinney said: ““We have increased our spend on health and social care in NHS Borders and are developing top-class services for people in the Borders. By increasing our spend in 2015/16 we will maintain estates and replace equipment in the NHS Borders area.”
“It’s crucial that we develop our health service and meet the changing demands of people living in the Scottish Borders, which is why we are also protecting the budget for the NHS.
“We are protecting the Scottish Borders’ budget and continuing to invest in the area. We have maintained levels of local government funding and allocated extra money for new responsibilities including our pre-school nursery care for children.
“These moves will help parents get back into work and give children a better start in life. This budget delivers a fair deal for the people of the Borders.”