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Swinney to unveil government's latest business reset

First Minister John Swinney will set out his plans for the economy today | Alamy

Swinney to unveil government's latest business reset

First Minister John Swinney will today set out his ambition to reset the Scottish Government's relations with the business community as he unveils his vision for fostering economic growth.

In a speech at the Barclays Campus in Glasgow, a fintech hub that was opened by former first minister Nicola Sturgeon in 2021, Swinney will promise to "go all out" to encourage economic investment in Scotland.

He will vow to govern with "moderate left-of-centre, progressive values" in partnership with unions and business", noting that his government will be "firmly pro-business".

"My goal is to help people live happier and healthier lives with higher living standards and to help businesses boost profitability," he said ahead of the visit.

"The evidence shows that independent countries that are comparable to Scotland are wealthier and fairer than the UK.

"Scotland has the talents and resources to match that performance with independence but in the here and now and in the face of Brexit we must work even harder to help Scotland’s economy with the powers we have.

"I will go all out to encourage investment in Scotland and I will ensure people know my government is a firmly pro-business administration.

"A partnership with trade unions and business will be at the core of my approach and through that approach and given our resources, not least incredible renewable energy, we should look to the future with hope and optimism." 

It will mark the SNP government's second attempt to reinvigorate its relationship with the business community in a little over a year.

When he succeeded Sturgeon as first minister last March, Humza Yousaf promised to reset what was seen as a strained relationship with business leaders, with his then economy secretary Neil Gray later announcing a New Deal for Business that promised to foster an "open and honest dialogue between business and government" to "provide certainty and consistency for business across Scotland".

Although Gray was beginning to gain the trust of the business community, his move to health after Michael Matheson left government earlier this year was seen as a setback.

His replacement on the economy brief, Mairi McAllan, has now been replaced by Kate Forbes, who also serves as Swinney's deputy first minister.

In her only major speech in the economy role McAllan said her aim would be to prioritise growth.

"My bottom line is your bottom line," she said at a meeting at the headquarters of corproate law firm Brodies in February.

"I want the economy to grow, I want individual businesses to invest, I want productivity to increase, and I want to help you succeed."

Forbes, who was popular with businesses during her stint as finance secretary in the Sturgeon-led administration, met senior executives on her first day in office and vowed to cut red tape to help attract new investment and boost the economy.

In a column in The Sunday Times Forbes wrote: "As the newly sworn-in deputy first minister, with responsibility for the economy, I want to get stuff done.

"Everything is an economic policy – tackling poverty, reaching net zero, raising the revenue to invest in our public services.

"The plan is simple. Get the economy firing on all cylinders, and it will power a better future."

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