Business: New Deal for Business Group minutes - October 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 5 October 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy (Co Chair)
  • Dr Poonam Malik, Head of Investment - Strathclyde University (Co Chair) 
  • Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE)
  • Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC)
  • Scottish Council of Development and Industry (SCDI)
  • Institute of Directors  (IoD)
  • Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)
  • Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA)
  • Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC)
  • Scotland Food and Drink (SFD)
  • Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)
  • Business in The Community Scotland (BiTC)
  • Muckle Media 
  • NSET Delivery Board Co-Chair

Items and actions

Items and actions 


Cabinet Secretary: grateful to members and colleagues for work and feedback shared on the NDBG Implementation Plan. The latest draft shared with members yesterday reflects feedback taken and ensures language is sharp, direction of travel and actions are clearly set out and accessible to all. Look forward to agreeing the plan today and discussing Groups role/format in ensuring these actions are delivered. 

Final discussion of Recommendations Delivery Plan and formal agreement to publish

Dr Malik: shared thanks to all members, and SG who have been working and taking an action- and product- based approach in designing the Plan. Language is more bold and ambitious. Plan will support the ongoing process to delivering the culture and policy change. 

Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE): in the foreword, “supporting an economy in which more tax revenues are raised to finance public services.” Growing the tax base to generate more tax revenue is a consequence of economic growth. In order to sustain public services there needs to be a balance of tax base and tax revenue. Keen to remove reference to tax revenue here – needs to be broader. Caution needed around trying to measure everything, a dashboard could cover a small number of things. 

Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA): echoed SFE point on tax base, enhanced delivery for public services needs to work for everyone. In paragraph 4, in reference to any introduction of small business, it should say both in our rural and urban communities. 

NSET Chair: NSET metrics are one of the key metrics to measuring growth and wilk be used to support NDBG delivery measurement. 

Dr Malik: critical we see progress of NDBG work translating into economic growth outcomes. 

SFE: employee headcount is a better measure around productivity and contribution which is valuable data. One Wellbeing Economy Subgroup recommendation is to develop a strategic approach to ensuring businesses have the opportunity to influence the content of the Just Transition Plan. Caution needed around sectoral differences. Point echoed by SRC from sectoral prospective.

Dr Malik: the Plan is around kickstarting the process rather than completion. Need to measure what we want to indicate from it, capture business growth and ambition in there. Not just to increase tax base, revenue to support public services, but for overall business.

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB): FSB haven’t agreed the regulations chapter. FSB comments shared by 27 September but not reflected in this document. SG committed to engaging with FSB to discuss. 

Institute of Directors (IoD): highlighted that need to measure implementation. By March 2024, it would be beneficial to have something to show what the what the landscape will look like 6 months from now. Evidence may not always be tangible when improving the relationship. 

Scottish Council of Development Industry (SCDI): echoed suggestion re measurement of developing a dashboard approach and ensuring we capture the growth that Scotland will achieve. 

Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC): need to ensure synergy with Business Principles agreement. The Plan is the answer to that and heading in the right direction. Still gaps on Parliamentary aspect of relationship with business such as Committees and process of engagement with individual parliamentarians. LA’s also play major role in delivery and engagement how is this being picked up. Echoed by STA. 

SFD: queried what are we being measured on, bit of confusion on outputs and outcomes. Purpose of the group is implementing culture and application of the principles – need to demonstrate we are applying the NDBG principles in policy development. 

Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC): stressed need for distinction on what this Group will be responsible for on successes. The metric on measuring success might not reflect the level of engagement. On page 7 the sentence “The success of implementing recommendations will be measured in the long term by the improved relationship with businesses in developing and applying new regulations”. Should be included in the overall Plan delivery rather than just the subgroup 2. Keen to understand when we can expect these to translate into economic figures.

Muckle Media: good phrase in Plan to highlight “working together positively can we change the dial on business/government relations and deliver a wellbeing economy, creating the best possible place for business, people and planet”. 

Cabinet Secretary: stressed the need to focus on targeting economic inactivity and growth rather than committing to guaranteeing the growth we want to deliver. Success of this plan may not translate directly or immediately in figures, however should create a better landscape for business to achieve economic growth. Finding language around the balance between the two is key. Reaffirmed commitment to delivery. Transient Visitor Levy is a good example of cross cutting engagement at policy development stage. Need to ensure principles will continue. Agreed on suggested changes raised. 

Dr Malik: highlighted the Plan will set out the Groups responsibilities against the NDBG outcomes, and link to our existing metrics such as NSET. 

Communications discussion

Scottish Government (SG): welcome additional comments via correspondence by COP Tuesday 10 October. Intention is to formally launch on 19th October. The Implementation Plan will be electronically available on SG website and we will share final version. We will develop with you a comms toolkit, to achieve a consistent approach to reactive lines. Will share our toolkit through stakeholder channels such as business bulletin etc. There will be communication with Parliament via the relevant process – letter to Committee. We will have substantial internal communications to promote the workings of NDBG. Final piece of comms is that SG will relay to this group that we have delivered what has been agreed. 

STA: keen to know if there are any visual aids to support promotion of the Plan. Echoed by members. 

SRC: keen that alignment of NDBG comms for the delivery plan does not contradict any upcoming announcement on regulations. 

SFE: business thrives on a degree of stability. When informing Parliament of the Plan, could we consider a form of cross-party brief. Keen to understand consideration around applying NDBG principles to other Cabinet portfolio’s policy developments in achieving growth. SG confirmed work continues around BRIA/Submission templates/Cabinet Papers to ensure policy is investor, business and growth friendly. 

Dr Malik: highlighted the communications work needs to be clear on a progress update and the reasons for it. A Dashboard approach can support that communication. 

Discussion on groups function, subgroup next steps, membership review and frequency of meetings

Cabinet Secretary: the Group will continue to have a strong governance role with subgroups driving actions forward. looking to review the group format to ensure we have the right membership with the knowledge and capabilities for the governance role. Grateful for the substantial amount of time members have dedicated for this group but conscious it’s not sustainable. Suggest CBI join the group. Consider option that additional members come on a rotational basis as required.

Dr Malik: stressed importance of maintaining governance and strategic oversight accountability role for the NDBG actions with outcomes and empowering subgroups to progress specific actions. Quarterly or bi-monthly preference for future meetings. Some additional membership would be beneficial to add value and ideas. 

Group agreed that existing attendees should continue to be involved, agreed quarterly meetings going forward, CBI should be invited to attend, and general consensus that additional members would add value. Need to be aware of possible challenges of "narrowing the lens". 

SCC: suggest revisiting the group's Terms of Reference (ToR) and adding in some recommendations. 

SFE: suggest use Industry Leadership Group (ILG) network relationship to consider the overall employer relationship model. 

Director for Business & Better Regulation: subgroups roles are to lay out the plan and their progress on delivery, allowing this group to be a forum to discuss as an overview and be assured progress is being made. 


Permanent secretary: thanked Dr Malik for her leadership and members for their work and commitment. Advised he is committed to this being a cross SG approach at the heart of the prospectus and Programme for Government.


  • SG to amend to reflect members feedback and seek formal agreement from NDBG members of the Plan via correspondence by COP 10 October
  •  Communications toolkit will be finalised, and agreement sought via correspondence of NDBG members. Consideration will be given to adding NDBG Logo, Strapline, Slides, and Parliament cross party brief on the Delivery Plan to be added to Communications Plan
  •  Ensure SG feedback NDBG plans to ILGs for views
  • NDBG Secretariat will arrange meetings on a quarterly basis
  •  CBI invitation agreed and formal invite to be shared and invitations to additional members, as suggested
  •  Revisit NDBG ToR and add in Recommendations
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