News Archive

Scottish Chambers Comment on the PM's Europe Speech

Commenting on the Prime Minister's Europe speech, Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: 'The world is a very different place to what it was 40 years ago when the United Kingdom joined the then European Economic Community.  It is therefore right that the UK and Europe re-examine the relationship between the European Union and its member states with a view to ensuring that Europe is driven by economic needs and not the other way around. 'Scottish businesses are, in the main, supportive of many of the advantages provided by membership of the European Union, particularly around the free movement of trade and labour.  Europe is vitally important to Scottish trade, with figures published this week demonstrating that 46% of our exports go to other EU nations, and it is therefore of no surprise that a recent Chamber of Commerce survey of businesses throughout the UK found that 82% of firms wanted to see the UK remain within the EU. 'What business does want, however, is a Europe that meets its needs and expectations and is seen to be working towards maximising our economic prosperity.  Many European institutions are still perceived as being distant, opaque and bureaucratic and a re-examination of how Europe can be made more accessible and responsive to our needs is therefore desirable. 'However we do need to minimise uncertainty and the Prime Minister needs to act sooner.  We know that our relationship within Europe needs to be reassessed and Government needs to get on with this work now.  By delaying any referendum until after the next General Election, the Prime Minister is running the risk of his plans being perceived as being driven by politics rather than by policy.'

04/02/13

SCC Comment on Unemployment Figures

Commenting on the news that Scottish unemployment fell by 14,000 in the three months to November 2012, Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: 'The reduction in Scottish unemployment in the run up to Christmas last year is welcome but there are underlying issues which remind us that Governments north and south of the border need to keep their feet on the gas in terms of action to stimulate our economy. 'The figures show that despite the fall in unemployment, the number of people in work actually fell over the same period, whilst over the year as a whole, employment only increased by 1,000 overall.  This is also against the background of this week's report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which revealed that unemployment among Scots under the age of 25 has doubled to 90,000 over the past five years. 'Unemployment and, indeed, underemployment are major factors in suppressing consumer demand and this, in turn, is holding back economic recovery.  The Scottish and UK Governments must act decisively to support businesses and reduce the barriers to growth if the private sector is to create the jobs Scotland needs going forward. 'Scottish Chambers of Commerce are determined to support this work and our Graduate Recruitment Incentive Programme, operated in partnership with the Scottish Government, is already succeeding in getting more Scottish graduates into suitable and sustainable positions within small and medium sized businesses.'

04/02/13

2013: Another difficult year for much of Scottish Business

Scottish Chambers of Commerce have released their Business Survey results for the fourth quarter of 2012.  The survey, conducted in conjunction with the University of Strathclyde's Fraser of Allander Institute, reports continued weaknesses in activity in much of the Scottish economy but with some limited signs of improvement in manufacturing and construction, although not in the service sector.  The results highlight the need for Governments at a UK and Scottish level to maintain a clear focus on tackling the barriers to growth and to support business through a prolonged period of below trend growth. Garry Clark, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: 'Our latest survey suggests that many Scottish businesses continue to experience difficult trading conditions and anticipate little change in the first half of 2013.  Whilst there have been marginal improvements in performance and outlook for a number of businesses across the manufacturing and construction sectors, this is against a background of poor expectations at the end of summer 2012 and the reality is that, in most cases, expectations are little or no better than they were a year ago. 'The retail and tourism sectors continue to suffer from weak consumer demand and already in 2013 the pattern of extensive discounting and rate cutting together with outlets closing is all too clear.  Tourism is looking to bounce back from a disappointing summer in 2012, where the negative impact of the Olympics and bad weather damaged trade.  2013 could be the year when the Olympic dividend is finally achieved, following last year's shop window to the world.  On the other hand, many retailers are looking to government to help support the regeneration of town centres in the face of evolving shopping habits and lifestyle changes.  It is therefore extremely worrying that the Scottish Government is pressing ahead with its plans to reduce empty property relief, taking £18 million per year of potential investment out of our town centres at the very time we need property owners to be preparing for changing retail requirements. 'The Scottish Government's focus on capital spending is extremely welcome, however, and the additional resources made available over the next three years as a result of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement means that it ought to be possible to get the programme of 'shovel ready projects' in place.  What we cannot afford is delay in the implementation phase

01/02/13

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