New Deal for Business: terms of reference

Terms of reference for the Business: New Deal for Business Group.


As part of his policy prospectus, published on 18 April 2023, the First Minister set out plans for a ‘New Deal with business’ with the aim to engage widely with business leaders to develop and agree a 'New Deal' with the private sector, for how Government and businesses will work together for business to deliver a thriving economy for the nation that is growing sustainably, creates wealth, jobs and increases wellbeing for people and planet, in an inclusive manner.

A New Deal for Business Group (NDBG) has now been established, co-chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy and Dr Poonam Malik to lead on the deal goals and to help ensure that we deepen our relationship with business from not just engaging and communicating with them from early stages of policy formation but actively aligning our policy to business based on changing market and external conditions for business and working in partnership on common goals of having a thriving wellbeing economy for our nation. 

Following feedback from business, industry and community, we propose the New Deal has four main areas of focus: 

  • shared awareness of the economic and business environment – to ensure Scottish businesses are resilient, and able to capitalise on investment and trade, maximise economic opportunities within Scotland as well as thrive internationally and to contribute to the mission and targets outlined in the National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET)
  • developing the best environment to do business – to ensure our skills pipeline, talent availability, business support, tax and regulatory framework are attractive to business and industry and helping to create the best possible enabling business environment. This workstream will consider the findings of the relevant subgroup on further enhancements to the Non-Domestic Rates system
  • enhanced partnership working – build on the Joint Principles Agreement to work better with business across all tiers of government including co-production where feasible, ensuring impact on business are identified and picked up early and policy aligned accordingly across SG policy areas. Build relationships to ensure private sector picks up its share in supporting the delivery of the priority areas that the government is seeking to pursue for the nation 
  • contribution to a wellbeing economy – build on the principles of an economy that has wellbeing at its heart, built on the principle of equity, diversity and inclusion with fairness at the core and being positively clear on the important contribution and role of business in the delivery for Scotland’s prosperity

Role of the New Deal Group

The vision for the group is to drive momentum and delivery of the frameworks/work plans for key outputs. This is not an exhaustive list, and we are looking for members, business leaders and communities views, but by end June the following outputs/recommendations could be made:

  • agreed processes in place to improve regulation, including proper assessment of the cumulative impact of regulation on business; a revised and improved approach to Business Regulatory Impact Assessments; to be taken forward by the relaunched Regulatory Review Group with clear scope and membership through the Joint Regulatory Taskforce
  • a shared agreement and commitment on how SG will not just communicate, but also work in partnership with business on policy development from the earliest stages to ensure that the cumulative impact of policy on businesses is fully understood based on data driven insight in light of changing markets and external conditions and that policy implementation is effective and proportionate
  • the establishment of a consultative sub-group, chaired by the Minister for Community Wealth and Public Finance, to advise on further enhancements to the operation and administration of the Non-Domestic Rates system following the final implementation of the independent Barclay Review of Non Domestic Rates on 1 April 2023
  • a shared appreciation and articulation of how business contributes to an economy, which prospers while caring for equity of people, SG Missions and planet, thus, a Wellbeing Economy. An agreement on key areas where we will actively work together in partnership with business to maximise SG Missions. Examples here could include maximising and promoting Investment (a Wellbeing Economy Indicator); thriving trade, improving the health of our workforce; contribution to talent attraction and Skills building; Circular Economy; and Supporting Parents into workplaces and committing to transparency towards equitable opportunities- for building a diverse workforce including, enabling women and ethnic minorities with securing investment and in leadership roles
  • agreement on collating and sharing key metrics and real-time evidence across different sectors. Ensure that SG works alongside Enterprise Agencies, Skills Development Scotland, local government, and diverse businesses to deliver emerging domestic and international opportunities including clarity on sector strategies.
  • agreement on how the group might evolve over the next year, including membership, to ensure delivery against the above workstreams

Role of subgroups

We propose that each of these outputs are supported by a short life subgroup the majority of which will be facilitated by one or two group members with SG support, who would bring in other members and representatives from the wider business community, as agreed, to provide advice and experience. The consultative sub-group that will advise on further enhancements to the Non-Domestic Rates system will be chaired by the Minister for Community Wealth and Public Finance.

The subgroups would meet in between meetings of the New Deal Group, would have an allocated member of the Senior Civil Service and would have light secretariat support and would report back on progress and flag issues/challenges at whole group meetings. 

Subgroups are expected to bring their findings, suggestions, framework and recommendations back to the NDBG group to ensure an overarching strategic discussion, and that recommendations made are followed by aligned action plan adoption and implementation framework. Thus, ensuring that the NDBG has an oversight and accountability for recommendations and is able to effect change to demonstrate its overall value, contributions, effectiveness and validity for reset, reform and reengagement.

They will be expected to provide their conclusions/framework/recommendations by end June as agreed by the group.

The Cabinet Secretary and Dr Malik would be available to the subgroups and subgroup leads, and they are encouraged as required, to discuss early insights or, any issues that may arise.

Governance and frequency

It is proposed that the NDBG meetings will: 

  • be co-chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy and Dr Poonam Malik. Secretariat will be provided by the Strategic Business Engagement Team, drawing on analytical, regulatory, programme and policy expertise from across SG
  • strive to be face to face (with the option of online as necessary)
  • be short term in nature. Have three NDBG meetings by the end of June, in addition to meetings of subgroups on key issues with regular correspondence/updates in between to the co-chairs
  • replace the existing regular meetings with the Bus Orgs Big 6 +3 for the duration of the group
  • publish minutes on the SG website
  • after June, review the membership and frequency of the group as we move to implementation phase. There is an expectation that this group could continue in some form for up to 12-18 months

It is proposed that the NDBG members will:

  • commit to suggesting agenda items in advance of meetings and co-lead on agenda discussions as appropriate
  • suggest and invite specific sector, geographic regional and diverse representation/input to the meetings, as appropriate


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