Report: Businesses feel Scottish government is out of touch
Most Scottish businesses believe the Scottish government is out of touch with the business community, according to the latest Fraser of Allander Institute Scottish Business Monitor (SBM) report.
Just nine per cent of firms agree that the Scottish government understands the business environment in Scotland, compared to 64 per cent of businesses that disagree, the report finds.
Produced in partnership with law firm Addleshaw Goddard, the report on the second quarter of 2023 surveyed over 400 firms from across the Scottish economy in July and August.
Against the backdrop of the Scottish government’s ‘New Deal for Business’, the Institute asked a series of questions relating to firms’ views of their relationship with the Scottish government.
The report finds that just 8 per cent of businesses agreed that the Scottish government engages effectively with their sector, with 67 per cent of firms disagreeing.
A slightly better 19 per cent of surveyed firms agreed that if they wish, they know an effective route to influence Scottish government policy, while 39 per cent of firms disagreed.
The latest analysis also finds that larger firms typically disagree more strongly than smaller firms when it comes to whether the Scottish government understands the business environment in Scotland or engages effectively with their sector.
Other key findings include:
- 80 per cent of hospitality firms and 92 per cent of other service activities businesses disagreed with the statement that the Scottish government understands the business environment, the highest disapprovals of any sector.
- 86 per cent of firms with more than 100 employees and 73 per cent of firms with under 100 employees felt that the Scottish government did not understand the business environment.
- 92 per cent of other service activities, 77 per cent of construction, and 72 per cent of retail firms disagreed that the Scottish government engages effectively with their sector.
- Larger firms had a higher rate of firms feeling that government engages ineffectively, with 90 per cent of firms with 250+ employees and 72 per cent of firms with 1-10 employees disagreeing with the statement that the Scottish government engages effectively.
- 50 per cent of other service activities and 48 per cent of professional services responded that they did not know an effective route to influence Scottish government policy, the highest of any sectors.
- Unlike previous questions, smaller businesses were more likely to not know an effective route to influence policy.
Professor Mairi Spowage, director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, said: “These results are obviously pretty disappointing for the government, with the vast majority of businesses not feeling that the government understands business or that they engage effectively.
“However, they underline the importance of the Scottish government resetting their relationship with business. It is therefore more important than ever that the New Deal for Business leads to changes in approach in the future.
“These indicators can help us track progress over time – and hopefully see improvements in the relationship.”
David Anderson, head of corporate at Addleshaw Goddard in Scotland, said: “Developing the best environment to do business is essential for the economy to thrive so it’s important for policymakers to be aware of the sentiment among business leaders in this regard, the good and the not-so good. These results are very timely and speak to the frustrations that businesses are clearly feeling.
“More than anything, however, the findings emphasise the need for business and government to come together and engage more effectively – working in partnership with the business community is what the New Deal of Business is about and these figures provide a benchmark as we move forward.”