Businesses and government must work together to accelerate economic recovery – CBI Scotland

The Confederation of British Industry in Scotland (CBI Scotland) has called for the government and business to work together to accelerate economic recovery amidst battle for investment.

Following almost two years of pandemic-reduced revenues across many sectors, staff shortages, cost pressures and disruption to supply chains, business is facing renewed uncertainty over the new variant.

It argues that Scotland needs to create a more attractive business environment by investing in people and connective and better capitalising on areas of competitive advantage.

Tracy Black, director of CBI Scotland, has written to Finance Secretary Kate Forbes proposing a series of policies to aid business investment during the recovery from the pandemic.

This includes continuing the discounts on business rates into the next financial year, as well as altering the rates system to incentivise green investments.

The CBI also wants the Government to “avoid further divergence on income tax rates” from the rest of the UK.

It is calling for the Government to “radically scale up” its funding for workforce training in sectors which are facing shortages.

A faster rollout of electric vehicle charging points and a smart ticketing system across public transport were also recommended by the CBI.

She proposed a series of priority interventions for the Scottish Government to consider ahead of the forthcoming Scottish Budget:

Enhance Scotland’s competitiveness to drive economic recovery

  • Business rates relief should continue as the economy rebounds.
  • Ensure an early return to a level-playing field on the Higher Property Rate by fulfilling a manifesto commitment to bring this back into line with England.
  • Use the non-domestic rates system to support investment in low-carbon infrastructure by de-rating all green improvements.

Upskilling Scotland’s workforce

  • Radically scale-up the National Transition Training Fund, with resources targeted towards high growth sectors and those facing most severe labour and skills shortages.
  • Significantly expand the Individual Training Account model to incentivise lifelong learning.
  • Support the development of short, sharp, industry-led college and university courses that deliver flexibility as we upskill and retrain the workforce.

Enhancing Scotland’s infrastructure

  • Scale up the rollout of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and incentives to boost demand for low emissions vehicles as new petrol and diesel cars are phased out.
  • Digitise travel across all modes of public transport with ticketless travel, smart payment options and multi-modal fare options.

Unleash investor confidence to seize the moment

  • Develop a clear, joined-up ‘invest in Scotland’ pitch that resonates with investors and puts Scotland ahead of international and domestic competitors.
  • Support clusters to build on world-beating expertise, e.g. in fossil fuel transition and renewable energy generation.

Tracy Black, CBI Scotland director, said: “As we look to rebuild Scotland’s economy in the face of complex challenges and heightened global – and domestic – competition, we need to focus on key drivers of growth to ensure Scotland remains a top destination for talent and investment.

“That means creating an environment where business investment is rewarded, vital skills and infrastructure prized, and significant resources committed to areas – like the green economy – that offer the best chance for long-term success.

“Government alone can’t deliver Scotland’s economic recovery. We need private enterprise, whether from home or abroad, to step-up with the ingenuity, innovation and investment needed to get the economy motoring again.”

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