28 September 2016

  |  CBI Scotland

News

Message from the Director

CBI Scotland Director Hugh Aitken assesses the impact of this month’s Programme for Government, invites Scottish members to have their say on the impact of the EU referendum at forthcoming regional events and sets the record straight following a misleading headline.

Message from the Director

Following the success of this month’s CBI Scotland Annual Dinner in Glasgow and the return of MSPs to Holyrood following a long summer recess, it is worth taking stock of what the Scottish Government’s legislative and policy agenda has in store for businesses in the year ahead.

The First Minister’s new Programme for Government (PfG) made reference to some 15 separate proposed Bills, plus a range of supplementary initiatives focussed on education, physical and digital infrastructure, and access to finance.

We welcomed commitments to physical and digital infrastructure among others, but we’re still waiting for full details on a range of policies including Air Passenger Duty and the Apprenticeship Levy. My comments were covered in the FT, Times, Herald, Daily Record and elsewhere.

Ahead of the PfG statement, in partnership with 12 other organisations, we wrote to Finance Secretary Derek Mackay urging him to reverse the increase to the Large Business Supplement that so many members have concerns about. We asked the Scottish Government to use their powers over tax rates to level the playing field between large businesses in Scotland and those in England. There was coverage from the BBC, the Times, the Courier, STV and more.

The Scottish Government agreed to “closely consider” businesses rates as part of its review led by Ken Barclay. Ken has kindly agreed to attend this month’s CBI Scotland Council to hear suggestions from members on the best ways to reform the rates system to deliver faster growth.

Of course, the influence of June’s EU referendum decision continues to be felt by CBI members across Scotland.  While recent economic indicators are encouraging, I have suggested that it is still too early to determine what effect the June 23 cote has had on jobs and economic growth. Moreover, independent analysis of Scotland’s tough fiscal landscape has shown that the Scottish Government faces some stark choices ahead of the next Budget. Click here for my response.

We have continued to stress in the Herald and elsewhere that Scotland’s immediate priority must be to ensure that the needs of the devolved nations are represented in the discussions on the UK’s future relationship with Europe and the rest of the world. We know that our members want clarity, both at UK and Scottish Government level.

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to leading businesses about the implications of the referendum at a well-attended seminar hosted by CBI Scotland member CMS and we are working hard to finalise details for series of ‘Brexit Going Forward’ regional events in the next few months. If you want to get involved please email Scotland@cbi.org.uk for details.

Finally, a few words on my own future.  A misleading Sunday Times article this month suggested my departure from the CBI was imminent, something that we rebutted in the strongest terms. For the avoidance of doubt, the CBI has always been aware of my intention to retire in 2018 and I remain completely committed to making sure our members’ voice are heard on the issues that matter to them.