Call for quicker action

Hunter blasts ‘prevaricating’ public sector on Covid crisis

Sir Tom Hunter

Quick response: Sir Tom Hunter says speed is of the essence

Sir Tom Hunter has questioned the government’s urgency in tackling the economic crisis after revealing that his investment business is awaiting a response to a proposal made last month.

He also raised the concern of one firm which went through a government scheme during lockdown for a 12-week pilot, but waited six weeks for a contract to be signed.

The entrepreneur said his Hunter Foundation supports a close public-private sector relationship which was a focus of the review chaired by former banker Benny Higgins.

“However speed is of the essence and we in Scotland cannot afford to delay or prevaricate on obvious actions that we could take now,” said Sir Tom in a commentary on the advisory group’s report published yesterday.

“In May we proposed co-investing with the Scottish Government in scaling up our Scale-Up Scotland programme, digitising it and quadrupling Scottish Edge to drive SME development – we even offered to pay the Government back if those investments didn’t work. We are still waiting on a decision.”

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Sir Tom said the Hunter Foundation remains willing and able to help, adding that “with all of Scotland working together we can again lead the world.”

He added his voice to those questioning why there were so few references to small businesses in the Higgins’ report.

Ross Brown professor of entrepreneurship and small business finance in the St Andrews University School of Management, noted in a paper of his own that there was just one mention of SMEs in the Higgins’ report’s 77 pages.

“The current Advisory Group on Economic Recovery has largely (and surprisingly) neglected the crucial issues facing SMEs at the present time,” said Prof Brown.

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