Responding to the publication of the 2020 UK Government Spending Review, Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:
“Despite unprecedented falls in GDP and rises in debt and deficit, it is welcome that the Treasury remains committed to supporting the economy in the face of ongoing challenges of Covid-19. However, the forecast for job losses despite £280 billion worth of support thus far should focus all minds on the toll this virus has taken on people’s lives and livelihoods.
“The launch of a national infrastructure strategy is an important step in overcoming the longstanding infrastructure deficit. The transition to net zero and levelling up across the UK will require ambitious and sustained action to transform our transport, energy and digital networks. Investment in R&D and through the new National Infrastructure Bank are welcome, we look forward to further detail on these and how they will be accessed in Scotland.
“Barnett consequentials mean the Scottish Government has some leeway in setting its priorities for the Scottish Budget in January and we believe increased financial support direct to business, upskilling and cutting the costs of business overheads should be top of its agenda.”
Commenting on the launch of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund:
“The launch of UK Shared Prosperity Fund to replace European Union structural funding is long-overdue and significant unanswered questions remain. Business communities will now require more detail on how the scheme will operate and how the new fund will avoid damaging cliff edges in existing local economic development and business support schemes.
“The government must work closely with business on the determining key features of the new fund, including a commitment to maximise local autonomy, business voice and economic growth. The Scottish Chamber network stands ready to support the pilot schemes and help develop proposals further once published.”
Commenting on those who have fallen through gaps in government support:
“Despite the Chancellor’s announcement, there are still many businesses and individuals who have, through no fault of their own, been unable to access any government support since the start of the pandemic and will require support if we are to avoid significant increases in unemployment and business failures.”