‘Hard work on economy starts now’

NOW that we have an unprecedented majority government at Holyrood, it is time to think about how this will affect all of us, how such a majority rule will work in practice and, for me, how this will affect business.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) will continue to work hard to influence the Scottish Government – and all parties in the Scottish Parliament – over the next five years and beyond to press the case of small businesses.

With a majority of constituency MSPs in Scotland belonging to one party, will the work of the regional list MSPs in opposition to the Government, become increasingly important? Will debates at Holyrood just be for show, or will they be crucial for Scottish democracy – shaping government decisions and re-focusing government plans? It is up to all of us to ensure that the Scottish Government delivers on what it has promised.

One thing’s for sure: the hard work on the economy starts now.

With a parliamentary majority and the stability that comes with it, the government should be on a sound footing to grapple with the challenges facing the Scottish economy. Top of the list should be allowing Scotland’s small businesses to create the employment and economic growth the country so badly needs.

As with all of the main parties, the SNP were influenced by many aspects of the FSB’s Scottish election manifesto. We will be pushing to ensure our main points are not forgotten.

The government will retain the small business bonus rates relief scheme but in a move that would benefit the Borders tourism economy, we ask them to develop it to give discounts to higher rated properties such as hotels.

We asked for support for one-man-bands and sole traders to take on their first employee, and the government has pledged £7.5 million of employment assistance to help our smallest businesses to do this.

We pressed for action on faster broadband and the SNP manifesto gave a commitment to developing a local broadband plan for the South of Scotland.

The manifesto went on to state that next generation broadband will be available to all by 2020 with an early roll-out of super-fast broadband to rural communities a priority.

This is good news for the Borders and something we must ensure is delivered.

The SNP manifesto listed the Borders Railway as a project they will deliver and, indeed, newly elected MSP Christine Grahame reaffirmed this commitment at our hustings event in Galashiels in April.

We will work with the government to ensure that as much of the sub-contract work for this project as possible is made available to Borders firms to tender for through the Public Contracts Scotland website.

The government’s commitments to issues affecting the Borders is encouraging, but it is up to all of us to keep the pressure on to ensure that the promises become a reality.

The FSB, with the support and direction provided by our members, will be doing what we can to ensure this happens.