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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-06126: Jackie Baillie (Dumbarton)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 12 January 2017

To ask the Scottish Government for what reason it considers that small business confidence in Scotland has dropped from -18.8 in quarter 3 to -28.9 in quarter 4, according to the FSB Small Business Confidence Index, while the figure for the rest of the UK has risen to +8.5, and what action it will take to close the gap.

Answered by: Keith Brown 27 January 2017

On 11 January, Andy Willox, FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “The reasons for this divergence aren’t immediately clear".Brexit is by far the biggest threat to Scotland’s jobs, prosperity and economy. That is why the Scottish Government have always been clear that remaining in Europe – and maintaining full membership to the world’s largest single market of more than 500 million people – is the best option for our future. Last month we published a detailed set of proposals in “Scotland’s Place in Europe”. The Scottish Government will continue to use all available levers to foster economic growth.

As part of our support for the economy, the Scottish Government announced a package of action to reduce business rates as part of the draft budget. This includes expanding the Small Business Bonus Scheme from 2017 to lift 100,000 properties out of rates completely, while 8,000 business properties will no longer pay the Large Business Supplement, and the overall business rates poundage – the core tax rate that applies to the rateable value of business properties – will also be cut by 3.7% to 46.6p.

Care needs to be taken in reading too much into the results of a single survey result for one quarter. Other recent survey evidence has provided a more positive picture for Scotland. For example Lloyds Bank report ‘Business in Britain’ showed that business confidence increased markedly in Scotland in recent months whilst the latest CBI Industrial Trends Survey showed that in the 3 months to January 2017, the business optimism reading was higher in Scotland than the UK and had improved at its quickest pace since July 2014.