Ruth Davidson: Scotland is ‘costly’ for new businesses to set up

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The leader of the Scottish Conservatives has told an audience of business figures she fears Scotland is gaining a reputation as “one of the most costly places to set up a business in the UK”.

Speaking at the Federation of Small Businesses annual dinner in Glasgow, Ruth Davidson said Scotland needs competitive tax rates to grow the economy and boost public services.

Ruth Davidson

Ruth Davidson

Her comments follow the publication last week of a Scottish Government discussion paper on income tax which includes options to increase tax rates and bands.

Ms Davidson said: “More and more I worry that Scotland is gaining a reputation as one of the most costly places to set up a business in the UK.

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“And with all my political opponents now pressing for increases in income tax as well, I am increasingly concerned for the impact this will have on the health of Scotland’s economy.

“It is wrong to continually punish firms simply for having the audacity to set up shop. We want Scotland to stay competitive so that we are seen across Europe as a beacon for investment, and new business.

“The prize for getting this right is enormous. By growing the economy just half a per cent above UK levels, the Scottish Government could benefit by up to £1 billion by the end of this next decade.”

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She said Scotland has to show it does not “sanction wealth creators - we support them”.

The MSP also used her speech to call on all governments involved in the Brexit negotiations to “step up the pace” to avoid a cliff-edge Brexit and give businesses greater certainty for forward planning.

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She addressed the sexual harassment allegations at Holyrood and Westminster, saying “a lid has been lifted on a culture of abuse and disrespect in our politics which is simply indefensible”.

She said politics needed a change of culture and having more women in politics would help bring this about.