In his new year’s message Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) Scottish policy convenor Andy Willox has said that 2015 must be a year of delivery for the country’s small firms.
Mr Willox said that, while efforts to implement the Smith Commission recommendations would feature strongly in 2015, there was also much work to do on a far wider range of issues which make the difference to those doing business in Scotland.
He said: “2014’s entry in the history books will of course be topped by the tumultuous referendum campaign, with Glasgow’s triumphant Commonwealth Games following a close second.
“But it was also the year that the economy looked to be turning the corner. We saw encouraging signs that small businesses were again ready to invest and confidence was back on the up. However, thanks to worries about shaky consumer demand and falling revenues, Scottish small businesses are ending the year with less confidence than we had at the start.
“So 2015 must be the year that we all get back to work and focus all our efforts on bolstering the recovery.
“And there’s a lot to get through. Clearly we need to look at how we’ll implement the Smith Commission proposals in such a way that they hardwire economic considerations into every decision Holyrood takes, while not imposing undue burdens on small firms.
“But we also need to concentrate on convincing whoever wins the UK General Election to back small business through continued tax simplification, energy market reform and delivering genuine choice in small business banking.
“At Holyrood, we must make sure the laudable objectives set out by Sir Ian Wood’s landmark report on fixing Scottish vocational education are delivered in spirit as well as to the letter.
“There must be genuine input from the sort of small employers who make up local economies and who too often are excluded from this debate. Nothing will change if we just get the same people round the same table to say the same things.
“Locally, it’s high time the Scottish Government worked better with councils to repair our broken local road network.
“With another revaluation on the way, there is considerable work needed to make the business rates system transparent, fair and relevant. Some changes can be made now, but a Scottish review which runs alongside the promised root and branch rethink south of the border now looks essential.”
Mr Willox concluded: “Despite the progress that has been made in the last year or so, many small businesses operate in parts of the country which the economic recovery hasn’t reached.
“In 2015, we need to ask some hard questions about how make the economies in our poorest communities function again. It is our firm belief that resilient local economies work because they have the right mix of large and small businesses, private and public sector operators.
“We need to harness the power of enterprise to transform our hardest pressed areas and resist the temptation to caricature the business community as the barrier to collective prosperity.
“Scotland’s small business owners know all about the challenge of turning a dream into reality. We know it means focussing just as much on how we do things as on what we’re trying to achieve. And we are ready to play our part in making Scotland a better place in which to live, work and do business.”