New Deal action

Ministers promise better relationship with business

Neil Gray
Neil Gray: open dialogue (pic: Terry Murden)

The Scottish Government has agreed a new consultation process aimed at developing policy alongside business.

It will focus on issues such as the introduction of regulations and business rates reforms, two key frustrations among business owners and lobby groups.

Businesses have been unhappy at what they see as a deluge of red tape on issues such as cutting salt and sugar from food, the promotion of alcohol, recycling and implementing fair work policies.

Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray said the recommendations from the New Deal for Business Group (NDBG) will help build a better relationship between the private and public sectors.

He said: “By ensuring an open and honest dialogue between business and Government we can provide certainty and consistency for business across Scotland, from small high street firms to the largest multinational companies.

“I am grateful for the commitment shown by business to the new deal and to group members for developing the recommendations which are now agreed actions.”

Dr Poonam Malik, head of investment at Strathclyde University, and co-chair of the NDBG alongside Mr Gray, said: “Listening actively to business and working in meaningful partnership on common goals will reap rewards and grow our economy ambitiously for the benefit of all of Scotland.

“Having Government and business in sync with each other, to deliver growth for our nation with a culture of collaboration – being open and inclusive, with innovative and creative thinking – will overcome the main challenges and break down barriers to high productivity, bringing investment and creating high-quality jobs.”

David Lonsdale, Scottish Retail Consortium director and a member of the group, said: “Scottish Ministers have moved swiftly over recent months to engage and listen to business and the tone and thrust of the New Deal Implementation Plan is encouraging.

“Our suggestions on regulation – resuscitating the Regulatory Review Group, properly implementing impact assessments at the inception of new initiatives, and clarity over the regulatory pipeline – are front and centre in the implementation plan and are measures all businesses can get behind.

“A return to good regulatory habits is crucial as several potential measures are either in the pipeline or under consideration, including new rules on selling foods in-store which are high in salt and sugar, restrictions on alcohol marketing in stores, and reviewing whether to apply fair work conditionality to licences to operate and to eligibility for business rates reliefs.

Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief executive Liz Cameron said: “After many months of constructive engagement, we now have a practical plan to implement to improve the relationship between business and the Scottish Government.

“Business will be looking for ambitious pro-growth policies which reduce the cost of doing business and help us to grow, create jobs, and invest.

“It is now time for actions to back up the intent if we are to tackle the challenges facing business and the people that power them.”

“Ultimately, the manner with which new regulations are developed and tax decisions are made, and whether Ministers both listen and act on the reasonable concerns of industry, will define whether this marks a step change in relations between business and government.”

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