Scottish businesses must be a central priority in wake of election - comment

It’s been said that when all is said and done, a lot more will be said than done.

Many firms are still having to adjust their operations due to the pandemic. Picture: Lesley Martin/AFP via Getty Images.

Let’s hope that’s not the case for the Scottish business sector, which after battening down the hatches to survive the prolonged onslaught of lockdowns will be closely eyeing the outcome of yesterday’s election with a view to the ramifications.

Only time will tell if pre-election promises are indeed delivered – and help address the plethora of concerns giving Scotland’s business-owners sleepless nights, including business rates, staffing issues, and the impact of continued pandemic-related restrictions on the bottom line.

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A recent survey found that two fifths of Scottish businesses fear they will run out of cash within the next six months – while Royal Bank of Scotland owner NatWest recently reiterated how it would move its headquarters to London in the event of Scottish independence.

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One “weary” business-owner who says her business is currently operating at less than 40 per cent of her usual turnover – and who believes smaller firms like her own have been sidelined – has called for the election to be about economic recovery rather than independence.

She is not alone, and Scottish Business UK is calling for voters to help stymie another independence referendum, and avoid a hard trade border with England, a scenario it said would cost up to £2,800 per Scot per year in lost income.

But in the opposite corner of the political boxing ring is Business for Scotland, which has claimed that Scotland is the only UK nation to have exported more goods internationally than it has imported every year since records began – while the SNP says it wants enterprise to be one of its core priorities as the nation rebuilds.

Scotland’s smaller firms comprise more than 99 per cent of its private sector businesses. Surely such business-owners’ votes will be shaped far more strongly by their own experiences over the last year, including the amount of support they have had and the way their sector has been treated, than any political manifestos. In any case, when all is said and done, and whatever the outcome of the election, Scottish business’ needs must be listened to and acted upon to help the crucial sector well and truly flourish.

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