Business for Scotland is a campaigning business network for ambitious, forward thinking smaller to medium sized enterprises. Our goal is to champion progress towards the creation of a Scottish society and business community that provides greater opportunities for shared prosperity. We are a passionate champion of policies and projects that will create sustainable business, economic and employment growth and dedicated supporters of Scottish independence as a means to deliver our goals.
We will engage the Scottish business community on a deeper level to co-create and promote our positive vision for Scotland, and to promote our ideas and policy recommendations to both Government and the business community.
Along with our key goal of building national prosperity, we will promote the values and sectors that will act as the foundations upon which we can build a more prosperous, successful, confident, greener, more equal and fairer Scotland:
SMEs – Although open to all businesses our core focus is on SMEs, the smaller to medium sized enterprises that create the majority of added value employment in Scotland. SMEs make up 99.4% of Scotland’s businesses, employing 1.2million (55.6% of all private sector employment) and representing the biggest opportunity for economic growth. But despite generating 39.4% of private sector turnover, the SME sector seems largely unappreciated in Scotland. In Germany they call it the Mittelstand and it powers the German economy. Business for Scotland will be the champion of the Scottish Mittelstand and to that end we have lobbied successfully for prompt payments and targeted tax allowances to become Scottish Government policy.
Economic Growth – We will champion the keys to growth in SMEs, encouraging best practice exchange, increasing skills, confidence and ambition, innovation, internationalisation and competitiveness. We will also inform and educate on the emerging new economics, our economy has changed and standard neoclassical economics has failed to provide the fair and equal prosperous and growing economy that we require. Quantitative easing for the people, basic income, a real living wage and sovereign money are all issues that need to be brought into mainstream economic thinking.
Fairness – Business for Scotland is the business network with a conscience; we understand that we need economic growth to improve national prosperity, but we also realise that we need that prosperity to be more widely shared so that economic growth can be maintained. Sustainable economic growth requires a more equal society so that more of the population can be economically active in a positive way. As a business network, we are committed to the Living Wage and will encourage our members to publicly support this initiative. Increasing wages for the lower paid will boost our economy and create a virtuous upwards spiral.
Internationalisation – Too few Scottish companies export, so we will seek to influence increased innovation, confidence and improved support programs for exporting which will be key to creating profitable and sustainable growth for our economy. Related to this we will actively campaign for Scotland to stay in the EU when there is an in / out referendum. We also recognise the need for a strong international brand for Scottish businesses, and will seek to increase the profile for our Scottish businesses and build international commercial links. We led the business arm of the remain Campaign in Scotland and helped deliver a 62% remain vote.
Equality – Business for Scotland has set itself a target of 50/50 gender balance in the elected members of our board, and we recognise that a society that values equality will be more balanced, prosperous and inclusive.
Self-determination – We believe in the localism of power and influence. We campaign for more powers for Scotland, seeking to achieve the maximum devolution of power and responsibility possible at any time. Having campaigned for independence in the 2014 referendum, it remains a core belief of our organisation. We will make the case for maximum self-determination, particularly in areas such as the economic levers and business policies which will allow a Scottish Government to boost economic growth and the success of the Scottish business community.
Innovation and Productivity – Scotland lags approximately 3% behind the UK average in productivity terms but up to 40% behind comparable economies such as Norway’s, and significantly behind other northern European economies such as Belgium, Ireland, The Netherlands and even larger nations such as Germany and France. Scotland spends 1.25% of GDP on R&D, and the faster growing and more prosperous smaller nations we are lagging behind such as Norway, Finland, Ireland, and Denmark, spend an average of 3.4%. Building towards an R&D spend of 3.4% of GDP over a five year period would mean that Scotland’s economy would grow by around £12bn a year.
Future Generations – The key to future success lies in giving young people a great start in life and making sure that world class training and apprenticeships are available. If young people can be given a head-start in their careers and paid a fair wage then they will contribute massively to our economy over their lives. Young entrepreneurs in Scotland in particular need support to ensure that our most confident and ambitious young people can aim as high as possible. Young workers need the support of the living wage to make work more attractive and productive and to ensure they understand that their efforts are valued by society.
Sustainability – Scotland is blessed with a natural environment that is a boost to both tourism and high quality food and drink, all major contributors to our economy’s ongoing success. Not only is protecting Scotland’s natural environment of vital importance, but green business opportunities and sustainable business practices offer major opportunities for Scottish companies that are yet to be realised for the benefit of our economy and society.
These values and goals were arrived at after consultation with our membership during October and November 2014 and our commitments were renewed at our 2016 AGM.