Earlier this year the First Minister set out a bold policy prospectus to chart Scotland’s course to tackle poverty, build an economy that is fair, green and growing and improve public services. Central to this is the development of the New Deal for Business, which offers a refreshed way of working with business, based on mutual trust and open dialogue. It recognises that business’ commercial success is central to achieving a thriving Wellbeing Economy.
Delivering the actions in this Implementation Plan will change what the Scottish Government does, and how it does it, for the better. It will deliver real benefit to businesses on the ground, by helping them to navigate policy development and by enabling them to understand their role and contribution to the process.
The New Deal for Business, and the implementation of its actions, presents a new and exciting long-term commitment to partnership. We want to create the conditions where business feels empowered to invest, to innovate, to provide good jobs, to offer products and services that consumers value, and to thrive, supporting an economy in which revenues provide sustained benefits for all the people of Scotland. Our aim is for a business sector that works in partnership with the Scottish Government in key areas of mutual interest, such as attracting private finance and increasing investment in the net zero transition, or in improving the mental and physical health of employees so that they remain in satisfying employment for longer and contribute to the economy.
The New Deal for Business will improve the operating landscape for all types of business in Scotland, from small businesses on the high street and elsewhere, across all our communities, urban and rural, to the largest companies, running multinational operations. It will do so by ensuring that there is honest dialogue between business and the Scottish Government, based on ‘no surprises’, and making policy choices that both achieve wider objectives, and enable business to thrive.
This is a significant undertaking. It will require a concerted ‘whole of Government’ effort and the buy-in of business, and it will take time. There will remain occasions where the Scottish Government’s legitimate policy interests and those of the business community (or parts of it) remain at odds. It is not realistic to think we will be perfectly aligned, nor that business will always speak with one voice. But the actions in this Implementation Plan will ensure that informed choices are made around the timing, content and practical consequences of new policies which are introduced.
Actions in the Implementation Plan are largely focused on improving process and practice, and delivering cultural change, rather than individual policies that affect business.
Specific policy action will continue to be led by portfolio Ministers, who have made a collective commitment to ensuring that policy takes account of the impact it will have on business, and to adhering to the New Deal for Business principles and actions. This is underpinned by a similar commitment from the Scottish Government’s Executive Team in their roles as Accountable Officers. This will deliver certainty, ensure consistency in decision making, and enable businesses to plan with full knowledge of the operating environment. That in turn will create the stable and supportive business environment central to achieving a Wellbeing Economy.
Both the New Deal for Business Group and the Scottish Government are committed to the Implementation Plan being delivered at pace. We look forward to working with business across Scotland to ensure that the benefits are realised. We are grateful for the commitment shown by business to the New Deal for Business programme thus far, and for all the work that has gone into developing and formulating this Implementation Plan in response to the recommendations in the New Deal for Business Group’s initial report.
This plan is action orientated and the New Deal for Business Group Recommendations are now agreed actions. We do expect this plan to evolve as work progresses and going forward our ask is that business continues to contribute and be involved. Getting the metrics right and regular reporting of progress against deliverables will be essential. The actions in this Implementation Plan will directly contribute to the delivery of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation.
Only by 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 to thrive.
Dr Poonam Malik
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