Scottish Government must help self-employed and micros thrive

Thursday May 12th 2016


The new Scottish Government must reaffirm its commitment to the 339,000 firms with fewer than 10 employees, according to a poll of 440 business owners based north of the border.

The survey, conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) since the Scottish Parliament election, found that most business owners want a stronger focus on micro businesses and the self-employed from this administration.

The research also identified better broadband and mobile coverage and reform of business rates as issues smaller businesses want at the top of new Ministers’ agenda.

The survey also reveals that a majority of small firms feel strongly that the country shouldn’t hold a second independence referendum in the next five years. 57 per cent of business owners identified another referendum as the top policy they don’t want the government to pursue.

However Scottish entrepreneurs do believe that issues important to them will be taken seriously by this administration. 46 per cent of survey respondents said that small business issues will be important to the new Scottish Government. That said, 48 per cent think the overall economy won’t be the top priority for the Scottish Government.

Colin Borland, the FSB’s head of external affairs in Scotland, said: “The business of government is all about juggling relative priorities and these figures show that smaller firms want a firm focus on the bread and butter, practical issues that affect their daily business life.

“Many Scottish small businesses have faith that their prospects will be important to Nicola Sturgeon’s administration, but only two in five think the economy will be her Ministers’ primary focus.”

38 per cent of business owners thought that the economy would be the top priority for the new Scottish Government. More women in business thought the economy was top of this administration’s agenda, but more than a quarter (27%) did not express an opinion.

Asked what the number one priority for the new government should be:

· 33% of business owners said they should introduce a stronger focus on supporting the self-employed and micro businesses;
· 14% of business owners said they should improve broadband and mobile coverage;
· 10% of business owners said they should reform business rates;
· 9% of business owners said they should improve young people’s skills;
· 8% of business owners said they should create new job creation incentives;
· 8% of business owners said they should reduce business regulation.

Asked to identify the top initiative which the new government should not take forward:

· 57% of business owners said carry out a second referendum on Scottish independence;
· 6% of business owners said introduce a tourism levy or bed tax;
· 5% of business owners said devolve tax-raising powers to local authorities;
· 5% of business owners said reduce the Small Business Bonus scheme;
· 5% of business owners said place more emphasis on the role of cities and city regions.

Colin added: “It seems from these figures that practical issues, rather than constitutional matters, are to the fore in our members’ minds and we look forward to seeing a real focus on broadening and strengthening our local economies from our Holyrood representatives.” ”

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