Covid recovery: Scotland's politicians need to listen to business community – Scotsman comment

Even before the Covid pandemic struck, there were rumblings of discontent about the Scottish government’s level of understanding of business and its needs.

Ian Marchant says businesses need to grow if climate change and poverty is to be tackled (Picture: Logan Energy)
Ian Marchant says businesses need to grow if climate change and poverty is to be tackled (Picture: Logan Energy)

Now, as the economic recovery from this most extraordinary crisis takes centre stage, it is all the more important that our politicians understand exactly what is required.

So it is concerning to learn that some of Edinburgh’s leading companies and business figures, working together to develop a ‘Prospectus for Growth’, encountered a “recurring theme” of what “appears to be a disconnect at this point in time between businesses and policymakers at both city and national levels”.

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The group – of more than 60 organisations brought together by Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce – includes senior executives from Forth Ports, Edinburgh University, RBS, Edinburgh Airport, the new St James Quarter, Stagecoach, LNER, Harvey Nichols, Edinburgh International Festival and many more.

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So these are not people to be dismissed lightly. What they have to say must be listened to by both the city council’s leaders and Nicola Sturgeon’s government.

Ian Marchant, of Dunelm Energy, who chairs the Edinburgh Business Resilience Group, felt the need to point out what should be obvious: the importance of dealing with the short-term effects of this crisis if long-term ambitions are to be achieved.

“We need businesses to succeed and grow if we are to create jobs and opportunities for our citizens, if we are to encourage the move to net-zero carbon [emissions], and if we are to tackle poverty through greater social inclusion,” he said.

For normally diplomatic business people, this is blunt language. Time for politicians to get real and listen to the advice of genuine experts.

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