7th September 2022

Reacting to the publication of the 2022-2023 Programme for Government, Charandeep Singh BEM, Deputy Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

“The First Minister rightly highlighted the challenges faced by businesses and households as spiralling energy bills and inflation weigh down on confidence and prospects of a recession loom large.

“Despite the resilience of business communities, it is clear we are in an economic crisis which poses an existential threat to firms and communities across Scotland.

“Whilst the Scottish Government has set out its priorities, the real test will come in the next fortnight as the new Prime Minister presents the UK Government’s emergency budget which has no choice but to deliver financial support for businesses and households across the UK.

“It is paramount the UK Government announces practical support which provides businesses with financial reliefs, as well as providing equitable consequential funding to the Scottish Government so that devolved policy matters such as the burden of Non-Domestic Rates can be meaningfully reduced for Scottish businesses.”

On Non-Domestic Rates:

“Firms need urgent reliefs to reduce the burden of non-domestic rates which is typically the highest upfront cost burden on businesses. As the costs crisis hits businesses hard, this is an immediate action the Scottish Government can take as part of its Emergency Budget process.

“From a regulatory perspective, planned changes to the NDR appeals system are complex and concerning to businesses, with many telling us that they do not hold much hope for successfully winning appeals. These proposed changes will be presented to the Scottish Parliament next month and our members have requested these changes be put on hold.”

On the Deposit Return Scheme:

“It will be disappointing to many firms to see that the Scottish Government still plan to implement the Deposit Return Scheme from August 2023, despite business representations calling for the scheme to be paused.

“Scotland’s scheme will hit the competitiveness of companies operating here as other UK schemes are not due until 2024. We hope the Scottish Government recognise the urgent need to hit pause on this scheme as businesses cannot afford these additional burdens during this challenging time.”

On Skills & Talent:

“The Scottish Government’s commitment to responding swiftly to the Stewart Review is welcome and must act to tackle the barriers facing women in business. Moves to encourage the development of Scotland’s fast-growing tech start up sector are also welcome which will help Scotland continue to emerge as a tech world leader.”

On Green Freeports:

“The commitment to progress two Scottish Green Freeports remains a positive step forward and will be a catalyst for the creation of new green jobs as well as promoting manufacturing, trade, investment and innovation.”

On Climate Opportunity and a Just Transition:

“Scotland’s businesses recognise the challenges posed by climate change as well as the opportunities to be grasped by the world’s drive towards Net Zero. The business community remains at the forefront of innovation and invention to help contribute to meeting net zero targets.

“Plans for an Energy Strategy and a Just Transition Plan are ambitious but must come with a roadmap that prioritises a fair and just transition.

“Today’s calls from the Scottish Government for an enhanced windfall tax will raise concerns for many. We urge the Scottish and UK Government to prioritise industry engagement and collaboration on future plans which could incentivise or inhibit business and investor confidence.”

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