The Scottish Association of Master Bakers (SAMB) said it was cautious of the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) pledge last week to abolish business rates for 120,000 small firms across Scotland.

The plans are part of the SNP’s £150 million small business bonus scheme. SNP leader Alex Salmond told British Baker: "The SNP want to see our high streets flourishing once again. There are too many boarded-up shops and businesses in our towns and villages."

An SNP government would grant rates relief of 50% to businesses with a rateable value of £8,000-£10,000 a year, he pledged. Those with a value of between £10,000 and £15,000 would get 25% off.

Salmond said: "An SNP Government will free up Scotland’s small businesses from the burden of business rates so they can grow and provide more and better paid jobs in local communities."

The Scottish Association of Master Bakers (SAMB) said that it welcomed business-friendly policies. Chief executive Kirk Hunter added: "Things have to be paid for in Scotland just like anywhere else. If a cost is reduced from one area, it is important that it is not lumped somewhere else."

For many years, businesses in Scotland have been paying higher business rates than their counterparts in the UK, added Hunter.

"We are pleased that most parties, not just the SNP, are putting the Scottish economy high up on their agenda."

The SNP announcement comes as part of their manifesto for the Scottish elections on 3 May.