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NEWS ANALYSIS


Great Scot?


This September, Scotland will vote on whether to leave the UK or not. But amidst all the uncertainties, what, if anything, will it mean for the toy industry? Robert Hutchins investigates


BY THE end of this summer, a question will be asked of Scotland with the potential to change the UK as it is known today. Over recent weeks, you


may have noticed an influx of words like ‘blether’, ‘rammy’ and ‘feartie’ peppering your morning newspapers, as politicians and campaigners dust off their best Scottish in the battle for column inches. And as the day of the Scottish referendum draws ever nearer, Westminster’s officials go head to head with their Scottish peers to ramp up the rhetoric in the


attempt at securing those crucial votes.


But despite the headline


grabbing spats, the celebrity fuelled Twitter debates and most recently Tony Benn’s posthumous anti-independence outage, the Scottish independence


What will the real cost of an independent Scotland equate to? How will independence affect the average resident and their disposable income? And just what is going to happen to the Scottish currency?


An expensive transition will hit our business, the families around us


and their spending. Helen Gourley, ToyHub


debate seems only to have left the most basic questions still unanswered.


MSP Fergus Ewing believes small businesses will prosper in an independent Scotland


For the country’s population of small dealings – accounting for 98 per cent of Scottish business and employing 42 per cent of those in the private sector – the answers could have a ‘potentially massive affect.’ And as independent


retailers go, few are better positioned to witness the generational knock-on affects of an “expensive transitional period” than the toy sellers. “There are serious concerns about how an expensive transitional period will hit not only the business directly, but also the families around us and their spending


08 August


power,” explains Helen Gourley, owner of Dunblane toyshop, ToyHub. “So, we aren’t confident that an independent Scotland would benefit us, but then we aren’t confident that it wouldn’t.” A quick glance at the latest headlines offer an indication of the kind of costs Scotland is facing should the nation vote Yes, with the country’s start-up figures ranging anywhere between £600 million and £1.5 billion.


Despite the enormity of the projected costs, the ‘Yes’ campaigners and Scottish Government are adamant that it won’t leave retailers out of pocket and be paid for through an increased VAT. “The process of


independence itself will not change the tax rates we pay,” Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s minister for energy, enterprise and tourism tells T


oyNews.


“As Scotland’s public finances are healthier than those of the UK, there will be no requirement to raise the general rate of taxation to fund existing levels of spending after Scotland votes independence.”


But it’s a confidence that isn’t shared by the toy retailers themselves, and Duncan Conner, managing director of the Largs-based toy and gaming shop Bus Stop Toy Shop is sceptical over exactly who will be left footing the bill. “It’s easy for either side


to produce numbers to back up their arguments, but there is no doubt that there would be a hugely expensive transitional period and the money has to come from somewhere,” he explains.


“It doesn’t matter where that somewhere is, it will have an impact on small businesses.” Conner will be voting ‘No’ this September 18th, and among a list of personal reasons for doing so, tells T


oyNews that it is the idea of orders being shipped ‘internationally’ from his England-based suppliers that presents him with his biggest nightmare. And despite MSP Ewing’s


reaffirmation that it is the intention “that postal charges to the rest of the UK will not be any more expensive than those within Scotland,” Conner is still not convinced.


www.toynews-online.biz


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