Convenience stores in Scotland could pay lower business rates indefinitely, if the Scottish Grocers’ Federation’s (SGF) new campaign is successful.

SGF wants to secure cross-party support for making the small business bonus scheme – a system providing rate relief on business properties with a rateable value of less than £35,000 – permanent.

John Lee, SGF head of public affairs, told Retail Express that it was “trying to take the politics out” of the proposal.

“The SNP has promised to maintain the small business bonus scheme under the current parliament, which is great, but that could change if another party comes into power,” he explained.

“We want to establish a cross-party support group on c‑stores, which we would use as a forum to convince all parties to agree on making the scheme permanent.”

He pointed out that Labour has said the party would maintain the bonus scheme, but only for businesses who invested in modern apprenticeships.

“That’s not a bad idea, but it would negate the savings offered by the scheme,” Lee said. “If we gain that cross-party agreement, we’d probably then have to convince parliament to push through the legislation, but with that support we’d be more likely to be successful.”

The SGF’s call for change came as SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon addressed concerns over rising business rates in Scotland.

Sturgeon pledged that “an SNP government would do everything it could to help businesses thrive in Scotland”.