Business recovery must be ‘front and centre’ for Scottish Government, urges SCC

Helping businesses recover from the impact of the pandemic must be the key focus for the Scottish Government in the year ahead, the head of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) has urged.

In a letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon ahead of the publication of her Programme for Government this week, SCC director and chief executive Dr Liz Cameron said with Scotland’s economy finally starting to recover from the impact of the pandemic “it’s essential that Scotland’s businesses aren’t coming out of the frying pan and going straight into the fire”.

She added: “Scotland’s businesses are clear that the focus of the Scottish Government for the coming parliamentary year must be front and centre on supporting business recovery from the damaging impact of the pandemic.

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“With increasing challenges around labour and skills shortages, supply chains and manufacturing component shortages, it’s important that the Scottish Government prioritise the needs of businesses to secure economic growth, and this should be reflected in the upcoming legislative programme.”

Dr Liz Cameron said it was vital firms don't find themselves 'coming out of the frying pan and into the fire' as they recover from the pandemic. Picture: contributed.

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Dr Cameron said key issues that the government needs to work closely with businesses on include revitalising towns and cities, training and upskilling the workforce, prioritising digital infrastructure, and “urgently planning to re-open Scotland’s vital aviation sector to reinstate and expand Scotland’s connectivity with the world”.

She also said: “It’s essential that the Scottish Government carefully considers the needs of businesses throughout the passage and implementation of its legislative programme during this session and use every lever at its disposal to secure an economic recovery that will create jobs and growth in every part of the country.”

Earlier this week Charandeep Singh from the SCC told the Scottish Parliament's economy and fair work committee that companies were concerned about the risk of future restrictions and that a furlough scheme should be "ready to deploy" if they were.

He said: "We are concerned that there may be a risk of restrictions in the future. And so I think it's important, that if there are local restrictions, that needs to be put into play.

"There must be a furlough option for businesses to tap into, particularly when restrictions are being applied last minute, and that should be actually be applying across the whole of the UK, not just in Scotland.

Redeploy

"Certainly in terms of a furlough scheme as a concept, we think it should be available and ready to deploy, now and in the future, should any restrictions be put into place."

Meanwhile, local supply chains need to be rebuilt to tackle shortages in supply in the medium term, the committee was told, and a need to fast-track support for construction to help build more accommodation in rural areas to attract workers to help plug gaps.

CBI Scotland recently urged the First Minister to give Scots a "clear message that it's safe to go back to work" as part of efforts to boost the country's economy.

As well as putting in place measures to improve skills and invest in the "green economy", CBI Scotland director Tracy Black told the SNP leader that to "build confidence" in the post-pandemic recovery, Scots should be given the green light to start returning to the office.

Ms Black said: "During the election campaign we had parties of all stripes telling business that economic recovery was their number-one priority.”

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