Scotland’s small businesses have been told it may be “beneficial” to set up registered offices south of the border after independence.
It comes in official advice commissioned by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) which also says firms could enjoy a boost in public sector procurement contracts in Scotland after a Yes vote - but lose out on deals with the rest of the UK.
The publication, entitled ‘Scotland’s Independence Referendum: Your business, your vote’, was commissioned following concerns from business owners over the quality of information produced by both sides of the debate.
Firms would not need to set up a business registered in the UK in order to trade there after a Yes vote, the document states.
But it adds: “Depending on the amount of business you do in rUK and on the currency and EU scenarios, this may be beneficial for you.”
Firms are urged to consult advisers on this when the issues become clear.
If Scotland does remain in the EU, Scottish firms would be freely able to bid for lucrative public sectors contracts with the NHS and councils south of the border under Brussels procurement directives.
But it adds: “Some contracts may be exempt from cross-border tendering rules, and there is also a potential for home country bias.
“As such, some Scottish businesses may gain from increased Scottish procurement, while some may lose from decreased rUK procurement.”
There is “no consensus” on the currency Scotland would use after a Yes vote, the guidance adds, with the UK having ruled out Scotland keeping the pound in a currency union which the SNP wants.
There is also “a question” over Scotland’s membership of the EU after independence which could see an “external EU border” imposed, even on a temporary basis. However the Conservatives’ plans for an in/out referendum in 2017 also places Scotland’s EU membership in doubt.
FSB Scottish policy convenor Andy Willox said: “Most Scottish small business owners don’t have time to leaf through dozens of phonebook-thick discussion documents only to discover that their business interests aren’t featured. Our research tries to weed out the waffle and highlight what we know, what we don’t know and what’s fundamentally unknowable in the referendum debate.
“Many of the specific points raised by our members will depend largely on the two big, and bitterly contested, issues of the campaign: whether we’ll be a member of the EU, and if so on what basis; and which currency we’ll use. Others – on the postal or tax system, say – hinge on what would happen in the various negotiations that would be conducted in the event of a Yes vote.”