#AskFabiani – helping small businesses

Question:

What plans does the SNP have to help small businesses – especially those that are not able to get help through the current schemes?

Answer:

The SNP is committed to supporting Scotland’s small business sector, which is the backbone of our economy and plays a vital part in providing jobs, training, and services in our communities.

As a devolved parliament, we don’t have control of the full powers that we need to grow our economy, but the SNP is doing what it can to provide the support the sector needs.

I recetly wrote a review of the Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS), which can be found here. But, from the question, I suspect the questioner’s business doesn’t qualify.

But, that doesn’t mean that the success of the SBBS is not important. Any business benefits from operating in a more vibrant economy in which there is a demand for its goods and services. So, by helping maintain economic activity in Scotland, the SBBS has spin-off benefits for many other businesses.

The same is true of our support for the construction sector. As discussed in another posting on this site, here,  the Scottish economy has experienced growing employment for each of the past nine months, and falling unemployment for five months in a row. Since April last year, 46,000 new jobs have been created in Scotland – more people in work stimulates demand in the economy.

Even within the limited powers of the parliament, we are doing and will do more.

  • We’ve funded a record 25,000 Modern Apprenticeships this year, so young Scots can get on the job training, much of it in the small business sector.
  • We will deliver a massive 100,000 training opportunities each year for the next five years – keeping the record 25,000 apprenticeships, plus 50,000 college bursaries, providing the skills our economy will need as it recovers from the recession.
  • Renewable energy offers us the chance to re-industrialise Scotland, building on a range of skills our businesses already have – creating up to 130,000 jobs in the green economy.
  • We will introduce a new Small Business Jobs Plan. We’re working with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to develop the right support packages to enable small firms to create 40,000 new jobs.
  • Even for those businesses that don’t qualify for SBBS, we’ve given Scotland’s businesses a competitive edge, with lower business rates allowing them to grow and create new employment opportunities.
  • With the Council Tax frozen until 2016, we will ease the pressure on family budgets – a move worth more than £1200 for the average household – money available to spend in the local economy.
  • We will support growing businesses with a new Export Support Package so that Scotland can sell more to the world, creating jobs here at home.

The Scottish Loan Fund is part of the Scottish Investment Bank and over the next five years we will take forward this important initiative, building on the £250 million already in place to widen support and loan funding for high growth Scottish companies, big and small.

We could have done more:

Using a minimum price for alcohol to fund a Social Responsibility Levy, we could tackle alcohol-fuelled disorder and support local services on which small businesses rely.

Applying a £30 million Large Retailers Levy on the largest and most profitable retailers would help us improve our town centres; creating attractive and vibrant communities that help business flourish.

Labour and other opposition parties voted both of these down.

We will continue to argue for more powers for the Scottish Parliament to let us support Scottish businesses, including control over Corporation Tax and Excise Duty to help us match policy to the requirements of the Scottish Economy, not the economy of the South-east of England.

Linda Fabiani
April 2011

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