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Gray puts business voice ‘at heart of government’

Neil Gray has promised to reform skills training

Business needs and concerns are being placed at the heart of government policy making, Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray told a gathering in Glasgow.

Addressing the Scottish Chambers of Commerce annual dinner, Mr Gray said he was committed to strengthening the partnership with business and consulting on policy.

He also acknowledged the need to tackle labour and skills shortages and confirmed the Scottish Government would update shortly on plans for the reform of lifelong education and skills training.

“The voice of business is not just being listened to, it is being put at the heart of government.,” he said.

“We have published an implementation plan on recommendations deriving from the New Deal Group and I am very conscious that, to keep earning your trust, I must deliver on it.

“This will not provide a solution to all policy issues or stop differences of opinion, but I hope it will ensure that operate on the basis of no surprises. Our policy should be informed by your expertise and your business planning should be informed by clear, early signals of policy.”

Business groups and individuals continue to question the Scottish Government’s commitment to supporting their demands and say there are is still too much regulation and other cost burdens, including proposed new taxes, that add to the cost of doing business.

Pressure is being applied on ministers not to raise business rates in the forthcoming Scottish Budget and to follow the Chancellor’s moves, announced in the Autumn Statement, to extend rates relief.

Mr Gray’s comments came just hours after the Scottish Government announced it will resume talks next year over alcohol promotion. Earlier this year a proposed ban brought widespread criticism amid accusations that the government’s proposals would damage a key industry.

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