Alex has welcomed a statement by Enterprise Minister Jim Mather in Thursday's parliamentary debate on the voluntary sector that there is a "strong case" for keeping the exemption from water rates for charitable bodies. Last month Alex wrote to Finance Secretary John Swinney outlining his concerns about proposed changes that would mean churches and charities would lose their exemption from water rates, costing them several hundreds of pounds per year.
In the debate Mr Mather said the government was sympathetic to concerns on the water issue, and would make a detailed response in due course.
Commenting on this statement Alex said:
"It is welcome to hear the Minister say that there is a strong case for a retaining the exemption for voluntary organisations, charities and churches.
“Several organisations in Lanarkshire contacted me expressing their concern. Many of these organisations offer vital local services. Churches, for instance, are far more than just a place of worship – they are used by mother and toddler groups, alcoholics anonymous etc. Having to pay these charges would have been a massive blow to them.
"The SNP supported the extension of the exemption scheme in opposition and it is good news to hear that the Scottish Government agrees with it in principle and that it should be supported.”