The Chancellor Rishi Sunak this afternoon outlined the UK Government’s spending plans for the year ahead.
Andrew McRae, the Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) Scotland policy chair, said: “For many Scottish firms wrestling with current covid restrictions, the Chancellor’s most significant and welcome recent spending decision was the move to extend the furlough scheme. While action to improve infrastructure – like Scotland’s substandard mobile network – should deliver long-term gains, we didn’t see many new measures today to boost small businesses in immediate crisis.
“Disappointingly, there was no decision to plug the holes in the current coronavirus support package and provide aid for the around one in five Scottish FSB members that have had little or no support from governments in London or Edinburgh. This omission needs to be tackled at the earliest opportunity.
“Local businesses will be crucial to tackling the unemployment crisis. We’d liked to have heard about a cut to employers’ national insurance contributions to help hard-pressed smaller firms create jobs and absorb the increase to the National Living Wage. That said, it’s only fair to acknowledge that the Government has listened to the expert Low Pay Commission, which is the right approach.
“Few can object to the volume of investment that city and region growth deals bring. But as our members and Audit Scotland have reported, these deals need to up their game. Specifically, we need to see more transparency, more input from nearby communities, and more local businesses winning associated work. If there’s a long-term future for these funding agreements, then they can’t be struck behind closed doors.”