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Scottish businesses urge next UK Government to focus on jobs and economic growth

20th June 2024

The leading Scottish business organisation is calling on all main political parties in the UK General Election to prioritise economic growth and job creation.

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC), which represents 12,000 businesses across all sectors, has published a 15-point action plan for the next UK Government.
It wants Westminster to establish a Joint Economic Growth Board, a partnership between business and government, within their first 100 days in office to oversee an ambitious programme of pro-enterprise and pro-growth policies.

Key priorities for the SCC are a commitment to no new taxes or levies on business for the lifetime of the next Parliament, investment in a Green Industrial Strategy, boosting global trade, developing a skilled workforce, a detailed just transition plan for the oil and gas sector, and cutting VAT across the hospitality, leisure, and tourism sectors.

Dr Liz Cameron CBE, Director & Chief Executive of the SCC, said:
“The country succeeds when business succeeds. That’s why we are urging the next UK Government to work closely with the business community to deliver pro-growth policies to turbo-charge investment, innovation, and job creation.

“The economy is a top three issue for UK voters and the 12,0000 companies we represent are the drivers of economic growth and employ millions of people. We are calling for a clear focus on resolving the issues holding our economy back and stopping investment in jobs.

“Our 15-point policy plan means the next UK Government can get to work on day one and give our members and our employees the confidence that the Government backs business.”
Demands on the new government include four key areas: Unleashing Business Growth, Accelerating Investment, Boosting Global Trade and Prioritising People & Talent.
The SCC want the next UK Government to:

Unleash business growth by:
1. Committing to no new UK taxes or levies on business for the lifetime of the next Parliament.
2. Cutting the VAT rate for hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors to boost spending, stimulate demand and support footfall in towns and cities.
3. Reducing alcohol duty to ensure the flagship industry is competitive, supported to grow, export, and create jobs.
4. Restoring an internationally competitive, tax-free shopping incentive for overseas visitors.
5. Investing in new and existing innovation districts across Scotland’s cities as part of a new Industrial Strategy.

Accelerate investment by:
1. Introducing a Green Industrial Strategy to drive investment through incentives, green skills and enable technologies such as sustainable aviation fuel and Carbon Capture & Storage.
2. Implementing the Union Connectivity Review by boosting air and rail links between UK nations and regions.
3. Instilling confidence and unlocking investment in the oil and gas sector by committing to maintain investment allowances and future exploration, as well as consider ending the Windfall Tax.
4. Creating a detailed just transition plan to net zero for the oil and gas sector, to protect jobs and investment as well as ensure energy security as we move to new sources of energy.
5. Funding the futureproofing of Scotland’s towns and cities, by investing in their resilience, growth, regeneration and attractiveness to citizens, businesses, visitors, and investors.

Boost global trade by:
1.Increasing exports by growing the number of exporting SMEs and improving access to the EU – the UK’s largest trading partner.
2.Prioritising and investing in air routes of strategic importance, including exporting and tourism routes.

Prioritise people and talent by:
1. Helping people transition successfully from Universal Credit into work, by increasing taper relief, boosting uptake of bootcamps, and providing high quality careers advice for job seekers, returners, and career changers.
2. Developing a skilled migration strategy to attract international talent, including tailoring for Scotland’s skills and working population needs.
3. Recognising the value of international students and retain the post-study visa ensuring the UK is competitive with global higher education hubs.

Dr Cameron added:
“Our members are clear that a Joint Economic Growth Board where business and UK government work in a meaningful, constructive partnership can unlock growth and help support struggling sectors. Each of those policy priorities can go a long way to deliver a strong platform for sustained growth and employment.”

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