Scottish government commits to £15m of measures 'to unleash entrepreneurial talent'

Scottish government commits to £15m of measures 'to unleash entrepreneurial talent'
Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events

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".

New funding, through the Ecosystem Fund and the Pathways Pre-start Fund, has recently been announced for organisations that help small businesses.

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.

Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events
I'm a freelance journalist and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I'm also Enterprise Nation's news reporter and Bristol Local Leader. I have 20 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from famous names like Sir Richard Branson and Deborah Meaden to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I now freelance for Enterprise Nation as the website's news reporter and as the host of the Small Business sessions podcast. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community in my role as Enterprise Nation's Local Leader for Bristol. I also have strong connections with other major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 100 events including conferences with an audience of hundreds for international brands like Xero and Facebook and live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography.

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