SCOTLAND'S Finance Secretary has responded to what she described as "interesting spin" from a Tory MSP on Twitter.

Maurice Golden, a regional MSP for North East Scotland, shared an article detailing that retail footfall in Scotland was down by 22.8% in December on pre-pandemic levels.

The figures were compiled by the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and show that the drop in Scottish footfall was below the UK average of 18.6%.

Golden used the article to say that the Tories are calling for businesses in Scotland to get 75% rates relief for the whole of 2022, adding: "The SNP need to wake up and get it done."

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Businesses in Scotland that have been worst affected by the coronavirus crisis - those in retail, hospitality and leisure - have 100% business rates relief until March 31 of this year.

After that, there will be 50% business rates relief available for the next three months.

Small businesses with a rateable value of less than £15,000 will continue to be exempt from paying business rates for the whole year.

Forbes responded to Golden, saying: "Interesting spin. In Dec (the month of the data you’re citing) Scottish retailers didn’t have to pay a penny in rates, whilst Tories charged retailers in England with rates bills.

"Tories reintroduced rates liabilities last July - 9 months before Scottish retailers pay a penny."

The 100% rates relief scheme came to an end in England on June 30, 2021. From July, businesses had to pay a third (33%) of rates until the end of March 2022. This was detailed in the March 2021 Budget announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

From April of this year, businesses in hospitality, retail and leisure in England will then have to pay 50% business rates up to a limit of £110,000 per business. for 12 months. This change was announced in Sunak's Autumn Budget.

While retail footfall in Scotland was lower than the UK average in December, businesses have not had to pay business rates for that period, one of their biggest expenses.

In Scotland, business rates, officially known as non-domestic rates, are a tax on non-domestic properties and are calculated by multiplying the rateable value of a property by a figure known as "poundage" and properties with higher values are charged a supplement.