Scottish Government advisory group asks banks to help fund struggling businesses

Scottish Government advisory group asks banks to help fund struggling businesses

Fiona Hyslop, economy secretary

Banks should find new ways to finance struggling businesses to ensure their survival amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Scottish Government advisory group. 

The call is part of the recommendations of the advisory group who were asked to consult on ways to lead Scotland towards a greener, net-zero and wellbeing economy.

The group was led by ex-Tesco Bank boss Benny Higgins who said that if changes were not made to “transform” the economy, “inequalities will drastically widen with long-term scarring for communities across the country”.

The group was also asked to advise on measures to address different challenges the economy will face as Scotland recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

The group’s 25 recommendations, which will now be considered in detail by the Scottish Government and its partners, include:

  • An urgent need to access low-cost debt requires an accelerated review of the Fiscal Framework, and a significant increase in access to capital investment to support an investment-led recovery
  • A Scottish jobs guarantee, in partnership between business and government, should be introduced to address unemployment, with refocused skills strategies and decisive steps to align teaching and learning in universities and colleges to the needs of business
  • Prioritisation of sector plans to deliver a green recovery, where the coincidence of emissions reductions, the development of natural capital and job creation are the strongest
  • Critical investment in the country’s digital infrastructure to improve connectivity, reduce inequalities and build the country’s resilience
  • Urgent action to develop a stronger relationship between business and government on the strategy for Scotland’s economic recovery

Economy secretary Fiona Hyslop has welcomed the recommendations.

She said: “Scotland, as with other countries, faces enormous challenges, and we need to all work together as never before to ensure our country emerges through this pandemic with a green economic recovery that has inclusion and wellbeing at its heart. We wanted the report to be ambitious and far-reaching, and with this strong and comprehensive set of recommendations this has certainly been achieved.

“The report identifies the importance of employment, the environment, education and equality. I agree that each one of these will be vital as we seek to create a society that is resilient, fair, and one in which everyone has the opportunity to be successful. We will now develop a detailed response to the report which will be published before the end of July.

“This report represents a clear call to action that goes beyond the Scottish Government and the public sector. We will only be able to build the kind of post-COVID-19 recovery we want with the active involvement of the private, cultural and third sectors and, importantly, the public. It is therefore vital that everyone continues to work together in the crucial weeks and months to come to deliver the action Scotland needs to recover from the impact of COVID-19.”

Benny Higgins added: “The Advisory Group on Economic Recovery has worked at great speed over the past two months, engaging extensively with businesses and with wider civic society to understand the challenges that we face, but crucially to curate a set of recommendations that emphasise the immediate need to protect and create jobs, reduce inequalities by building a green and technology-led recovery, and make Scotland an attractive place to do business.

“To create a robust, resilient wellbeing economy, the public and private sector must now build a new partnership to prioritise and deliver bold action. And they must do so with purpose and urgency.”

  • Read all of our articles relating to COVID-19 here.
Share icon
Share this article: