'Scotland’s business community is united in its calls for immediate action': Trade bodies urge Liz Truss to help firms achieve more stable and greener future

Liz Truss is being urged to act to help companies manage “eye-watering” jumps in energy bills, and accelerate their efforts in achieving net zero when she officially takes the reins as Prime Minister.

The newly appointed Tory leader said in her victory speech, ahead of the formal handover of power at Balmoral tomorrow, that she will “deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy” – but, in the meantime, trade bodies have laid out the key areas they believe should be her top priorities.

Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) chief executive Dr Liz Cameron said: “Scotland’s business community is united in its calls for immediate action to be taken to support the Scottish and UK economy; urgent measures are needed now to deal with the costs emergency.

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“Scottish businesses have been telling us of eye-watering increases in their energy bills, and that it is near impossible to find new fixed-term contracts to buffer against further price hikes. This is simply not sustainable.

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“[SCC] Network has set out an action plan to support businesses. It is now essential that we see swift movement on our proposals. The plan is not just about ensuring critical support for businesses. It is also about protecting jobs and households, securing livelihoods, and creating a vibrant and prosperous society.”

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Measures in the action plan include Covid-style support by introducing a Government Emergency Energy Grant for SMEs for businesses most at risk from the cost emergency. The SCC cited a tourism business boss in Forth Valley stating: “The leisure and tourism markets have already been experiencing severe hardship, and I personally I can see the next 12 to 18 months being critical in these industries’ survival.”

The UK’s constitutional future was cited as key by Alasdair Humphery, head of Scotland at property consultancy JLL, who said firms in Scotland “will be viewing a changing of the guard in Westminster with curiosity”.

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The SCC says the new PM must implement 'urgent measures' to handle the likes of the 'costs emergency'. Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.

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He added: "Neither candidate offered a change to the government’s current stance on an independence referendum as part of their pledges, and while it’s fair to assume that will remain the case for the time being, it will be interesting to see how that changes as we edge closer to the next General Election.

“Scotland will also be at the heart of the country’s energy security and sustainability in the coming years, especially given the strength of its renewable energy and oil industries, and they’ll need all the support they can get to help the UK hit its sustainability targets.”

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Also focusing on environmental matters was Jonathan Geldart, director general of the Institute of Directors (IoD). He said: “With business already facing unprecedented energy and other supply-side costs, we urge the new government to help mid-sized firms in their transition to net zero and reverse the recent hike in employers’ national insurance contributions. Action in both areas would support SMEs trying to grow in very difficult circumstances.”

Martin McTague, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, urged “big and bold” action, stating: “This is at a time of sky-high taxes, rampant inflation and supply-chain disruption, creating a toxic mix which must be addressed urgently. Small businesses are crying out for a comprehensive response which cuts taxes, limits spiralling bills, and provides direct cash support for the smallest [firms].”

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