FSB launches guide to help small firms navigate referendum
23 Jul 2014 02:16 PM
A new referendum guide will help Scottish business owners make their minds up ahead of September's referendum.
The non-partisan document, produced by the University of Edinburgh Business School and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland, looks at the practical issues and questions which business people say are not being adequately addressed in the debate.
Designed for FSB members but available online for anyone with an interest, the 32-page guide draws together arguments and material on both sides of the debate alongside international evidence. The publication, entitled ‘Scotland's Independence Referendum: Your business, your vote', follows FSB survey work suggesting that most business owners have sought out information on the referendum, but the majority were disappointed by the material produced by both sides.
Andy Willox, the FSB's Scottish policy convenor, said: "Two in five Scottish small businesses say that better referendum information could sway their vote but most businesses suggest the information provided by the campaigns doesn't answer the questions that matter to them.
"Most Scottish small business owners don't have time to leaf through dozens of phonebook-thick discussion documents only to discover that their business interests aren't featured. Our research tries to weed out the waffle and highlight what we know, what we don't know and what's fundamentally unknowable in the referendum debate.
"Many of the specific points raised by our members will depend largely on the two big, and bitterly contested, issues of the campaign: whether we'll be a member of the EU, and if so on what basis; and which currency we'll use. Others – on the postal or tax system, say – hinge on what would happen in the various negotiations that would be conducted in the event of a Yes vote.
"We hope that our concise document helps our members make a more informed choice without pretending to provide the mirage of answers where none can exist."
The report was written by Professor Brad Mackay and his colleague Sarah Ivory at the University of Edinburgh Business School. Professor Mackay said: "As the independence debate has intensified over the past few months, it's only natural that people are asking hard questions about what it might mean for them, their families and work. Given that small businesses account for the vast majority of enterprises in Scotland, their opinions really matter. We have therefore been delighted to have worked with the FSB on this important project.
"While we are not able to answer definitively all the questions the survey raised, we hope that it will serve as a useful source of information for all sorts of businesses in the run-up to polling day."
Notes to Editors
1. The FSB is the UK's leading business organisation with around 200,000 members and around 19,000 in Scotland. It exists to protect and promote the interests of the UK's Real-Life Entrepreneurs who run their own business. More information is available atwww.fsb.org.uk/scotland
2. A copy of the document, "Scotland's independence referendum: Your business, your vote", can be found on the FSB website. After an analysis of a survey of 1,826 FSB members, the research breaks into three sections: the first looks at the referendum process and any subsequent negotiations; the second examines the macro issues of currency and EU-membership on which the answers to many specific questions depend; and the third then tries to answer the more detailed questions asked by FSB members. This last section is split into five broad categories: Business Across a Border, People Across a Border, Tax, Personal Finance and Regulation.
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