Posted: Wed 13th Sep 2023
A £15m support package to "unleash entrepreneurial talent from all walks of life and all parts of Scotland" was among the announcements in the Scottish first minister's new programme for government.
Delivering the Scottish government's 2023/24 plan of action, Hamza Yousaf described it as "unapologetically anti-poverty" and "pro-growth" with measures that will "create opportunities, unleash potential and empower people, communities and businesses to thrive"
Supporting small businesses
Addressing businesses, Yousaf said:
"When businesses succeed, Scotland succeeds. It is on the back of the success of businesses, large and small, that we will deliver a wellbeing economy where good, well-paying, sustainable jobs are created and innovation flourishes -- enabling us to reduce poverty and widen the tax base that our public services rely on."
To support small companies, the first minister announced that the Scottish government will spend £15m on business support:
"The business community now, rightly, expects us to deliver. That is why we are taking forward a new £15m package of measures to unleash entrepreneurial talent from all walks of life and all parts of Scotland, helping start-ups to scale up, and putting our world-class universities at the heart of our economic future to drive innovation and create high-value jobs as a magnet for investment."
Yousaf pledged to "transform" the system of support provided to small businesses in Scotland and "ensure their voice is heard as we develop and implement policies to transform our economy".
The grants are designed to support programmes that encourage more people to start businesses, particularly those from under-represented groups and individuals who might not otherwise consider entrepreneurship.
'Reset the relationship with business'
Yousaf said the support measures are part of his government's "steps to reset the relationship" with business.
That began with the announcement of the New Deal for Business in April this year which included the setting up of a group for "government and business leaders to explore how best to support businesses and communities and to actively work together to achieve common goals".
The group made 10 recommendations, which were accepted by the first minister, that focused on issues including improving working around sharing data, involving business in the development of policy and tackling challenges related to business rates and tax.
New government small business unit
Writing in the programme for government, Neil Gray MSP, cabinet secretary for wellbeing economy, fair work and energy, said a new small business unit will be set up in the Scottish government "to work more closely with small businesses and ensure they are heard during policy development, building good practice in participation and engagement".
He added that the government is also working on actioning the recommendations of an independent review into female entrepreneurship to launch new pre-start centres and pop-ups designed to encourage women and other under-represented groups to become entrepreneurs
In addition, the Scottish government, Gray said, is working with businesses to improve prompt payment in public supply chains, and encouraging the UK government to introduce a VAT reduction on small businesses' energy bills to help ease the impact of high costs.
In another measure that will interest business owners who travel, Màiri McAllan MSP, cabinet secretary for transport, net zero and just transition, confirmed that the previously announced six month pilot for the removal of ScotRail peak-time train fares will start in October.
It is aimed at making rail travel more affordable and accessible with the results from the pilot being used to assess fares across the rail network.