Scottish businesses issue wish list to UK Parliament for first 12 days of Christmas
The Scottish Chambers of Commerce has set out a list of actions the newly elected government must take in the days following the opening of parliament to ensure that Scottish businesses regain confidence to hire, plan and invest.
The wish list is as follows:
- Introduce a simple and flexible immigration system that minimises the administrative burden on businesses and allows access to all skill levels – including temporary, seasonal and permanent roles – with recognition of professional qualifications and unique geographical and demographic requirements, specifically as these relate to Scotland.
- The Scottish Government should increase funding for apprenticeships to ensure SMEs can access training and also set out a long-term strategy and funding for lifelong learning, enabling people to upskill, retrain and adapt to technological changes in the workplace.
On business investment and costs:
- Extend the £1 million Annual Investment Allowance for a further two years and widen its scope.
- Clarify the UK Shared Prosperity Fund – and how it will deliver a UK regional funding system that has maximum local autonomy when European structural and investment funds cease in the UK.
- A moratorium on measures that increase the cost of doing business for the next term of Parliament.
- Raise public investment in infrastructure to at least 1.4 per cent of GDP per year – exceeding the funding guideline of 1.2 per cent recommended by the National Infrastructure Commission.
- Reaffirm support for private investment in the third runway at Heathrow Airport and proceed to deliver a UK-wide high-speed rail network as soon as possible.
- Commit to improving and enhancing digital infrastructure for every business community, including funding for digital literacy for businesses.
On international trade:
- Ensure continuity of trading conditions with third countries so that businesses can continue to benefit from the levels of market access that they have had under European Union free trade agreements.
- Secure the future of the UK-European Union trading relationship, minimising cross-border trade frictions and avoiding a hard border with Ireland.
- Commit to keeping trade support regional and not moving towards a one-size fits-all, national approach – and to delivering better coordination between trade support programmes in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in markets both here in the UK and around the world.
- Avoid a messy and disorderly exit from the European Union. Ensure the smoothest possible shift from a transition period to the future UK-European Union relationship.
- Introduce a temporary SME Brexit tax credit to support businesses that need to undertake specific activity to adjust to changes in trading conditions.
Dr Liz Cameron OBE, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “The time for the uncertainty and stagnation that has dogged us since the vote to leave the European Union must end. We cannot afford another year of lost business focus. Businesses are fed up and have grown increasingly frustrated as the focus required from parliamentarians to support economic growth has been squandered.
“Our Scottish reprepentatives at Westminster need to put the economy of Scotland at the forefront of their minds and in all policy discussions; that means supporting job creation and enabling Scotland to remain ahead of the game in global competitiveness. Whoever is elected or re-elected would do a complete injustice to the people who have voted them in if they do not ensure they use their voice and votes wisely.
“For the first 12 days of Christmas and beyond, Parliament must take action on the key priorities of our Chamber business communities.”