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Scottish Government should 'press pause' on new regulations for small businesses in Strathy

By Rachel Smart

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Andrew McRae.
Andrew McRae.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland has reiterated its key recommendations for getting the economy moving ahead of tomorrow’s First Ministerial statement on the Scottish Government’s priorities.

Scottish Government proposed policies such as: the Deposit Return Scheme, restrictions on alcohol advertising, and Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMA) is concerning for many Moray businesses that are already struggling.

FSB’s Scotland policy chair Andrew McRae said: “As the First Minister sets out his priorities, it’s essential that small businesses are made a cornerstone of economic recovery.

“We know that, historically, smaller traders have had a huge role to play in growth after economic downturns – indeed nine in ten of those who returned to work following the crash in 2008 did so by starting or joining a small business. Our small businesses have the flexibility and resilience that has allowed them to survive through several consecutive years of crises.

“Their survival cannot, however, be taken for granted. We need the Scottish Government to pursue policies that will allow smaller operators to trade their way out of the struggles they have faced since Covid, not burden them with unnecessary regulations.

“The most immediate priority from a small business perspective must be a pause on the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS). In its current state it simply is not fit for purpose, and the mooted one-year exemption for smaller traders doesn’t come close to a meaningful solution.

“The Scottish Government must stop and take stock of the significant concerns raised across the board. By working with business, they will be able to design a scheme with the confidence of everyone involved in implementing it.

“More broadly, the debacle of DRS could be a portent of more trouble to come, as businesses face a swathe of new regulations in various stages of development in the next two years.

“We need a complete rethink of how we design and plan new regulations – businesses who are struggling to survive simply don’t have the resources to alter their operations every few months because of a new scheme or system.

"We understand that these schemes are intended to service admirable policy aims, however we would reiterate our call for the Scottish Government to press pause on all new regulations and reach out to the small business community to find a way forward free from devastating unintended consequences.”

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