SCC: Bleak Budget for Scottish Economy 

Date Posted: 20 Dec, 2023

Commenting on the Scottish Budget delivered by the Deputy First Minister & Finance Secretary, Shona Robison MSP, Dr Liz Cameron CBE (pictured), Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

“We wanted to see a Scottish Government Budget that prioritised investment and business support. Instead, many sectors in the business community will feel neglected and disappointed. We recognise that today’s budget was made under significant strain on the public finances but today’s choices will leave many questioning the future outlook of the economy.”

On Income Tax, Dr Cameron said:

“The introduction of a new tax band for higher earning employees is a blow to Scotland’s attractiveness and places the personal tax system at a further competitive disadvantage compared to the rest of the UK.

“At a time when industry is dealing with a tightening labour market supply and skills shortages, further tax divergence will impact our ability to attract and retain the talent that business needs. We are concerned about the likely impact this will have on consumer spending and deterring potential talent from thinking about living and working in Scotland.”

On Non-Domestic Rates, Dr Cameron continued:

“Businesses will welcome that the government has announced a freeze of the poundage rate – this was the least that was expected from the Budget but the support has not gone as far as industry needed.

“Firstly, whilst we welcome the important support provided to hospitality businesses located on the islands, it is astonishing why this has not been equally applied to the whole sector across Scotland.

“Secondly, despite widespread calls from the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, the Scottish Government has continued to deny specific rates relief for the second consecutive year while firms in other parts of the UK will continue to have that vital support.

“Too many businesses will rightly feel abandoned and will challenge this approach. We ask the government to urgently rethink and reconsider the support provided to these sectors.”

On the A9, Dr Liz Cameron said:

“The A9 is Scotland’s longest trunk road and gateway to the Highlands that now also connects to the Green Freeport of Inverness and Cromarty Firth, so continuing work to upgrade it will boost the economy of the Highlands as well as make it safer.

“Business now expects to see a clear timetable of delivery as part of the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Net Zero and Just Transition’s statement on 20th December.”