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Use Scottish Budget to back business and jumpstart growth - CBI Scotland

Against a backdrop of high costs, low demand, and sluggish productivity, CBI Scotland has urged the Scottish Government to use the forthcoming Scottish Budget to ramp-up business confidence and investment in a bid to get Scotland growing again.

While Scotland remains an excellent place to do business, it’s clear that access to skills, restrictive planning processes and uncompetitive aspects of the tax environment are holding Scotland’s economy back from fulfilling its potential.

In publishing its annual budget submission, Scotland’s leading business group has outlined a series of policy levers that the Scottish Government can pull to alleviate these challenges and set Scotland on the path to economic success:

(1) Develop a skilled workforce that’s ready to meet the needs of modern economy.  

  • Produce a consolidated skills strategy and action plan that outlines how businesses can best work with government and educational authorities to ensure that the education and skills system is properly calibrated to real world demand.
  • Imbed net-zero and digital skills into our education system to ensure young people are equipped with the skills they need to succeed in high growth industries.
  • Publish annual data on the distribution and outcomes of Apprenticeship Levy funds to ensure that resources are being spent in the most effective way possible.

(2) Create a stable business environment that will allow Scotland to compete with both its neighbours and on the world stage.  

  • Publish a long-term tax strategy that will attract people to live and work in Scotland.
  • Freezing the business rate multiplier for another year while inflation is still significantly above target.
  • Reinstate a level-playing field by bringing the Higher Property Rate/Large Business Supplement into line with the rest of the UK.

(3) Reform planning processes and expedite major net zero opportunities.    

  • Reform planning processes for local and major green infrastructure projects, providing opportunities for meaningful input from business to unlock and accelerate investment.
  • Establish a government-supported, industry-led ‘floating’ team of planning experts, to accelerate consenting processes for major net-zero infrastructure projects throughout the country.
  • Provide a guarantee that the Green Industrial Strategy will place an emphasis on executing net zero projects in Scotland, that will encourage investment in the country, and in turn grow our economy.

Tracy Black, Director, CBI Scotland, said:

“Against a tough economic backdrop for everyone, the Scottish Budget marks an important moment for the Scottish Government to outline its ambitions for growth. With business investment now critical to putting Scotland back on a sustainable economic path, we urgently need firms to unleash investment, not try to tough out the difficult months ahead.

“Access to skills, restrictive planning processes and uncompetitive tax policies are acting as a handbrake on growth, and firms need to see that the Scottish Government is committed to meeting these challenges head on. Delivering on a manifesto commitment to bring the large business supplement into line with the rest of the UK and mirroring rates reliefs offered by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement are vital first steps on the journey.

“Seizing the huge economic opportunities available to Scotland means doing more than the bare minimum. We should be more ambitious on business rates, by offering a full freeze across the economy, and committing to rip-up the planning red tape that delays critical green energy and infrastructure projects from getting off the ground. It also means taking a clear-eyed look at the education and skills system to make sure it’s delivering the skills we need for a modern, digital economy.”

Original article link: https://www.cbi.org.uk/media-centre/articles/use-scottish-budget-to-back-business-and-jumpstart-growth-cbi-scotland/

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