- In the midst of some unusually vehement and outspoken criticism of the issues that have been allowed to fester, the Scottish government and business have forged a "new deal" and a "different way" of working together.
- Following the abandonment of high-profile policies, Scottish ministers have consented to consult with business at an earlier stage of planning reforms to determine their viability and cost.
- The "new deal" process has given people a platform to call for a radical overhaul of business rates and express doubt about integrating welfare into the operations of private companies.
In an effort to ensure that it won't be so easily excluded once more, business is once again in St. Andrew's House and has managed to extract some commitments from Scottish government ministers.
In the wash-up of announcements prior to Holyrood recess, a review of relations with Scotland's business communities was made public. The plans were being thrown in the trash of shame at the same time that Mairi McAllan, the cabinet secretary in charge of the proposals for safeguarding Scotland's marine environment, was doing it.
The highly divisive Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) plan was the most recent in a long line of policies that have failed when they came into contact with either business, reality, or both.
You might be familiar with the DRS, or deposit return scheme. The plans to outlaw alcohol advertising were defeated by Humza Yousaf in the early stages of his premiership.
The National Care Service encountered opposition on many fronts, and the private business aspect of care provision was the only one to voice its concerns. Also being paused and reconsidered is that.
Mr. Yousaf agreed that the leadership competition had demonstrated that business relations were far from ideal. The competition was a great chance to get heard, some of those whose job it is to recruit from the private sector will admit in private.
With more vigor and enthusiasm than some of his more seasoned and battle-scarred colleagues, Neil Gray, the new cabinet secretary, made an early commitment to shape a New Deal with Business.
These commitments to consult with business before releasing future policies for public comment and to conduct more thorough impact analyses of suggested changes are among the outcomes of that engagement.
It is planned to restart a task force on better business regulation that had been put on hold at the beginning of Covid, with Prof. Russel Griggs, a seasoned troubleshooter, taking the helm once more.
Prior to releasing their plans to the public, civil servants and ministers will need to take into account factors like practical application, unintended consequences, and basic workability.
The business perceptions are not glossed over in the 40-page document that the Scottish government released on Thursday.
The document claims that "there is a lack of openness and transparency in the government policy development process, which has resulted in a lack of credibility and trust on the part of business.".
Businesses are not involved at an early stage in the policy cycle, and it raises concerns about the lack of data use in policymaking.
Although these opinions are not shocking, it is unusual to read them published in a Scottish government document.
This implies a high risk factor and the attitude of "what have we got to lose?" since lobbying government is typically done in more diplomatic terms.
The St. Andrew's House table's business representatives made it clear what they thought of the limitations in government: "A better process for engagement with business will give policymakers access to the skills of those in business, who by definition are creative, innovative, and practical.". unlike, for example. ?
The report from the subgroup on partnership working was just one of many. Much more was on the agenda for the regulation session.
The issues with the recent laws governing bottle deposits, marine protection, and alcohol advertising have all started there. And that's where the most progress has been made in getting ministers to make those commitments about getting a head start on future policy proposals.
The fact that businesses already recycle almost all of their glass in the bottle deposit scheme is one thing that clearly irks people, and there have been rumors that the Scottish government's proposed scheme might actually lower the amount of recycling.
Therefore, it is noted that officials may want to learn what is already being done by business to accomplish a goal before advising business to do something else that might be less effective.
A particularly irritating sub-group focused on business rates made less progress toward the significant reform that some business participants want to see. That has at least been left open for future discussion.
This "new deal" sub-group drew attention to the fact that Scotland offers less business rate relief than England does for certain industries, like hospitality and retail.
In order to cover the costs of implementing its policy, the Scottish Chambers of Commerce proposed that the Scottish government offer business grants.
The wellbeing economy was met with strong skepticism in the subgroup's report.
The group seemed to spend most of its time attempting to define, describe, and quantify a wellbeing economy. It came to the conclusion that defining what ministers are talking about should be the first goal of policy.
Then, under the heading "So what?" they turn to the Scottish government for an explanation of why they ought to be concerned, what it has to do with their industry, and how they are supposed to react.
The report states, "The overarching lesson we learned is to use the right language to communicate with businesses. The phrase "wellbeing economy" is only understood by a small percentage of people, and the language used to describe it can scare away business owners because it sounds official and academic. ".
When they reach the issue of "whose wellbeing?," the business community's skepticism becomes even louder and more indignant.
Fair and inclusive work policies are "one of the most significant ways in which many businesses support Scotland's transition to a wellbeing economy," the report claims.
The wellbeing of business owners is just as important to the wellbeing economy, it is said. Some aspects of the wellbeing economy are focused on employees.
It makes reference to Scotland's countless self-employed individuals, many of whom are business owners who are "very low paid and under significant pressures," such as in the farming sector, which has one of the highest suicide rates.
As of now, the process of arriving at that New Deal for Business appears to have provided a venue for letting off steam while also defining short-, medium-, and long-term goals. The following phase might be a little less contentious if some policies were revised again and ministers were willing to listen.
To get the economy to a net-zero carbon emissions state, however, will require even more difficult choices in the following phase. Significant obstacles and expenses for businesses are included, and not just in Scotland.
The first minister is then committed to using the tax system as part of a redistribution agenda to pile more on to those who are most able to pay it. The topic of the new advisory board for those tax reforms for the Scottish government is now being discussed. After the publication of the New Deal document, its membership of academics and other tax experts was announced.
The finance secretary, Shona Robison, cannot be accused of entrusting her life to those who will make it simple for her. .
A fascinating test of the effectiveness of the new deal will be the proposed changes.