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TAKING SCOTLAND FORWARD - SCC'S RESPONSE TO THE COMPREHENSIVE SPENDING REVIEW

[ 20-10-2010 ]

Responding to the announcement of the Comprehensive Spending Review by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: 
 
“There is no doubt that the scale of the budget deficit meant that business was expecting a tough settlement from the UK Government in this year’s Comprehensive Spending Review.  We now know the extent of the cuts and where the axe is falling across a number of Government departments.  The result must be a thorough change in the way public services are managed and delivered, increasing productivity and efficiency, putting the customer first and achieving more with less. 
 
“For Scotland, the budget reduction for the Scottish Government is perhaps a little less severe than we were expecting, particularly given that this year’s public spending cuts have been deferred to 2011/12, but nonetheless some serious challenges remain.  Capital budgets are being hit significantly at a time when business needs investment in our infrastructure in order to maximise our opportunity and competitiveness and to create the jobs needed to absorb the inevitable reduction in the scale of Scotland’s public sector workforce. 
 
“There was some good news in the shape of broadband pilot schemes, including one very welcome initiative in the Highlands and Islands, but the fact is that we need digital infrastructure in place now in order for Scottish business to compete on a level playing field with international rivals.  A study published this week by Cisco and the Said Business School puts the UK in only 18th place in the world broadband leadership league table, behind competitor nations such as Finland, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands. 
 
“Businesses in Scotland are now looking forward to the response of the Scottish Government in terms of managing their budget allocation.  They must adapt quickly to a new spending culture that relies less on the inputs that are, currently, largely beyond their control and more on the outputs that businesses and the wider public expect them to deliver.  It is clear that the public sector can no longer buttress growth in Scotland’s economy through its own functions and instead it must invest scarce resources in order to allow the private sector to flourish and create the wealth and jobs we need as a nation. 
 
“The Scottish Government must remove the barriers to success through tackling regulation and ensuring fair rates burdens at the same time as focusing its limited capital budget on providing the transport and digital infrastructure business needs in order to connect and compete.  There is a great deal at stake and every penny of taxpayers’ money must be made to work for the growth of our economy.  We cannot take success for granted, and business and government must work together with this common purpose if we are to take Scotland forward to growth.”
 

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