Prime Minister Boris Johnson is visiting Scotland for the first time today since taking office and has announced a £300 million funding pot for communities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in each of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has welcomed the new funding but warned that the UK government’s priority must be to avoid a no-deal no-transition Brexit.
The business campaign group has also urged the UK Government to work in partnership with the Scottish and Welsh Governments to avoid developing competing initiatives and programmes and to redouble efforts to restore the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive, so that the region with a land border with the EU is also actively represented as plans develop.
In a joint statement Andrew McRae FSB’s Scotland policy chair, Ben Francis FSB’s Wales policy chair, and Tina McKenzie FSB’s NI policy chair said: “Smaller firms in communities across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will welcome this new support for their local economies. This money must be spent with care and deliver tangible benefits to the businesses that are so vital to the success of these areas.
“But the larger threat to the prosperity of these local places is a no-deal no-transition Brexit on 31 October for which the great bulk of smaller firms simply aren’t prepared and, in some cases, cannot prepare.
“While businesses must do what they can to prepare for all scenarios, UK Ministers must stretch every sinew to avoid circumstances which would put pressure on so many operators.
“As the new Prime Minister reveals an ambitious programme of initiatives to boost UK productivity, his officials must work to ensure that they work for firms in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. New schemes must work in a devolved context and should not duplicate the work of the devolved Governments. For example, the replacement to EU structural funds – the so-called Shared Prosperity Fund – should be directed from Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast for spending in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively.”