Calls for next government to focus on business recovery
Two leading business groups have called on the new Scottish Government to bring forward legislation to support economic recovery and growth.
The Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) is urging politicians to support a Business Growth Act within the first hundred days of the next parliament.
This law would reduce upfront business costs, boost trade, commit to investment in digital and other infrastructure, and support the upskilling and reskilling of the workforce.
Meanwhile FSB Scotland has called for a Small Business Recovery Act to ensure greater focus smaller on firms and level the playing field for public contracts.
The UK economy has been under pressure over the last year as lockdown and other restrictions has led to closures across a range of sectors.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the economy shrank by 9.9 per cent in 2020.
Publishing its manifesto ahead of the Scottish Parliament election in May, the SCC said there needed to be an “ambitious” programme of pro-business policies to mitigate the damage caused by coronavirus, Brexit and a “legacy of slow growth”.
Director Dr Liz Cameron said: “We hope our plan will provide a comprehensive yet practical set of ideas that will be fundamental to ensuring that our economy bounces back and is ready to grasp new trading opportunities here and abroad. The pace of government action must be accelerated considerably.”
Polling conducted by the Diffley Partnership for the FSB found business owners were largely pessimistic about prospects for the Scottish economy.
Over half of respondents said the biggest barrier to growth was the state of the economy, with a significant number also pointing to the pandemic and Brexit.
FSB Scotland policy chair Andrew McRae said: “The coronavirus crisis has hit Scotland’s self-employed and small business community for six.
“While governments in Edinburgh and London argue they’ve done everything in their power to mitigate the impact of this crisis, there’s no doubt the pandemic will have an enduring impact on this group who will be vital to the recovery.”
Meanwhile, the STUC is calling on election candidates to commit to create good and green jobs backed by an industrial strategy.
The body also says the next government must use all the levers available to it to increase pay in the private sector, as well as providing a pay rise to public sector workers.
General secretary Roz Foyer said: “The STUC will challenge candidates of all parties to commit to a ‘People’s Recovery’, rebuilding a better economy and shifting power in favour of working-class people from day one of the new parliament.
“That challenge will be carried directly to candidates by raising the voices of workers who have become all too used to being dictated to, rather than listened to, by the politicians.”