Labour leader demands change
Leonard calls for shift in RSA to help Scottish SMEs
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.”