SMEs do not want independence poll

Small firms say second referendum should be dropped

Colin Borland 2Small businesses are urging the Scottish Government to drop plans for a second independence referendum.

A survey conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) after last week’s Scottish Parliament election found that small business owners were most opposed to the idea of a second poll.

Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader and First Minister designate, said she intends to reignite the campaign, despite losing its overall majority in the parliament.

Small firms says they want the new administration to focus helping micro-businesses – those with fewer than 10 employees – and the self-employed.

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

A majority of small firms feel strongly that the country should not hold a second independence referendum in the next five years. More than half (57%) identified another referendum as the top policy they do not want the government to pursue.

However, Scottish entrepreneurs do believe that issues important to them will be taken seriously by this administration. Just under half (46%) said that small business issues will be important to the new Scottish Government. That said, 48% think the overall economy will not 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.”

A third (38%) 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.

Mr Borland 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.”

FSB conducted the snap poll between 6 and 9 May which attracted 440 respondents from members.


Do you think that the economy will be the top priority for the new Scottish Government?



Male / Female


38% 37.5%  (165)



48% 48.18%  (212)


Don’t know

14% 14.32%  (63)


 How important do you think small business issues will be for the new Scottish Government?


Net: important

46%    45.45% (200)

Net: not important

33%    32.95% (145)

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