Nicola Sturgeon sets out Scottish business package

NICOLA Sturgeon today said Scotland’s businesses must thrive to “create a fairer and more prosperous country” as she set out a package of support for firms.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the campaign trail. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the campaign trail. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

She is demanding new laws to ensure small firms are paid on time, and seeking a funding boost for new housebuilding from Westminster.

The First Minister was joined by her deputy John Swinney to launch the SNP’s business manifesto after recent criticism of the party’s plans for full fiscal autonomy amid claims it would leave a black hole of £7.6 billion in the country’s public finances.

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Nationalists insist that Scotland must create growth in the economy to offset any shortfall and today set out the party’s blueprint to boost business activity.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Ensuring Scotland’s businesses thrive is vital in order to strengthen and grow our economy and create the fairer and more prosperous country we all want to see. The SNP is committed to working closely with the business sector – and we have used the powers of devolution to support businesses and their employees however we can.

“But the cuts agenda of the Westminster parties is holding our businesses back as it stifles growth and hampers recovery. And the threat to take Scotland out of the EU against our will also looms large.

“A strong team of SNP MPs will make the case at Westminster for more support for our businesses.”

The SNP say small business face an “increasing volume” of late payments and Nationalist MPs will will seek to put “prompt payment” into law and push any UK Government to meet payment deadlines.

The party will also press for the early devolution of Air Passenger Duty to boost our tourism sector.

Additional affordable house building across the UK with funding for the construction of affordable homes for rent, is also being called for, as well as demands for the new high speed rail network to connect with Scotland.

Mr Swinney added: “The SNP is the only party offering an alternative to austerity – and our plans for a modest spending increase of 0.5 per cent will enable us to strengthen and grow the Scottish economy as well as investing in our public services.”

He added: “The SNP will use our influence at Westminster to maximum effect to ensure that the Scottish economy gets the support it needs to create and support jobs, boost competitiveness and tackle inequality.”

The SNP also say they will seek to make sure that Scottish businesses aren’t “cut off” from the economic opportunities of the EU and demand that any future referendum there should have a “double majority” requirement. This means each of the four home nations of the UK would have to vote for withdrawal before the UK as a whole could leave the EU.

They also want a change in the “transmission charging regime” to support Scotland’s energy industry, rather than the current higher charges which Scottish power stations currently face.