Scottish Government needs to engage more with business, says economic adviser Benny Higgins
The Scottish Government needs to engage more with business, economic adviser Benny Higgins has told Holyrood in an exclusive interview for the Politically Speaking podcast.
Higgins, a former CEO of Tesco Bank who headed up the Scottish Government’s advisory group on economic recovery, said he thought the government was willing to engage with business, but Nicola Sturgeon had to “move it up the priority list”.
He also suggested that Sturgeon needed to be more “overt”, comparing her style with Alex Salmond’s, who he said communicated in a “very direct way” with business.
But Higgins also said that business needed to do better as well.
“One of the challenges we’ve got is that we’ve got trade bodies that I don’t think represent business that well.
“And so you’ve got a government that needs to talk more directly to business and engage more and you’ve got trade bodies that don’t necessarily represent it. It’s a very bad starting point.
“But the good news is, it’s not hard to fix. It’s very easy to fix it.”
One of the recommendations of the economic recovery advisory group was that the Scottish Government and the business community take “urgent action” to develop a new collaborative partnership.
It noted that it was “striking” that there was no forum that brought together the leaders of the Scottish Government with the leaders of Scottish business.
In his interview with Holyrood Higgins suggested that it would help if more people working in the private sector to get involved in public sector projects to break down barriers and increase understanding, something that was also mentioned in the advisory group report.
“One of the things we need to do is get more people to do, I suppose, what I’ve done, is not give up their life and move out of the private sector into the public sector but make a contribution,” he said.
You can listen to the interview on the Politically Speaking podcast page.
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