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Labour leader demands change

Leonard calls for shift in RSA to help Scottish SMEs

Richard Leonard in Airdrie

Richard Leonard: wants a change of focus (pic: Terry Murden)


Labour leader Richard Leonard wants to rebalance the main government grant offered to businesses in favour of smaller Scotland-based companies.

Since 2007, Scottish Enterprise has allocated £222 million in regional selective assistance (RSA) to foreign companies and £140m to Scottish-owned firms.

Meanwhile, the amount of RSA grants going to small and medium enterprises has fallen from a high point of £20m in 2012 to £12m in 2016. 

Mr Leonard’s proposal follows criticism of Scottish Enterprise in October by a Holyrood committee for failing to spend its budget on supporting growth businesses.

Labour said more government support for small firms to help them grow is essential for a more sustainable Scottish economy that is less reliant on foreign-headquartered companies. It forms part of the party’s wider small business strategy, which includes plans to: 

  • Set up a Scottish Investment Bank with up to £20 billion in lending over the next decade
  • Increase the share of procurement contracts for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs); making it easier to bid for tenders by delivering the contracts in smaller units; and set a new target for the amount of procurement going to SMEs.
  • Require any company working on a public sector contract to pay its suppliers within 30 days.
  • Introduce annual revaluations of business rates to ensure the system is fair, transparent and easy to understand
  • Boost the availability of apprenticeships in SMEs and get better outcomes from the apprenticeship levy

Mr Leonard said: “Small businesses have been held back for too long by a Tory government in Westminster that doesn’t care and the SNP in Holyrood that is letting Scotland down.

“Instead of being supported to create well-paid jobs to help our communities to flourish, the SNP government has short-changed Scottish firms by more than £80 million over the last decade.

“The next Scottish Labour government will overhaul government grants like Regional Selective Assistance to support small businesses here in Scotland, delivering jobs and growth.”

See also:

MSPs attack Scottish Enterprise for failing to back businesses


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