Labour attacks small take-up of SNP’s Business Pledge

Sturgeon launched the Business Pledge in May 2015 to improve pay, tackle inequality and encourage growth. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty
Sturgeon launched the Business Pledge in May 2015 to improve pay, tackle inequality and encourage growth. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty
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Nicola Sturgeon’s flagship Business Pledge scheme applies to less than one per cent of Scottish business, research by Scottish Labour has suggested.

Only 371 firms have signed up to the scheme, which Labour supports. It aims to boost fair work practices and productivity.

The number of businesses taking part represents just 0.2 per cent of Scotland’s registered business base and 3.5 per cent of Scottish jobs.

Revealing the statistic, Labour’s economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “The Business Pledge is beginning to look more like an exercise in PR than one in economic development.

“In traditional low-wage sectors with insecure work, like hotels and the hospitality industry, not a single business has signed up. With a third of hospitality workers under 25 this is simply a failure of the SNP government to stand up for younger workers.

“Serious questions about how effective this scheme is need to be asked – it seems very doubtful that it is promoting better wages and productivity.

“Last week Scottish Labour launched an industrial strategy that looks at creating high-quality, well-paid jobs for the future, giving workers more control over their lives. To deliver on these promises you need more than warm words. Labour will look to change the law to give workers better rights, use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to increase investment in education and skills, and use public contracts to extend the Living Wage into the private sector.”

A spokesman for Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Keith Brown dismissed Labour’s analysis as “nothing more than the usual inept attack from Labour”.

The spokesman said there were “zero businesses signed up to any kind of Fair Work pledge when they were in office”.

The spokesman added: “It is only in Scotland under an SNP government that the Business Pledge exists.

“There is no Welsh Business Pledge in Labour-run Wales and Labour failed to introduce a Fair Work business pledge in England or across the UK when they were the UK government for 13 years.

“Scotland remains the best performing of all the UK countries in terms of paying the Living Wage, with the highest proportion of employees paid the Living Wage or more – around 80 per cent.”