Giving helping hand to small business

Michelle Thomson MP. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Michelle Thomson MP. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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GIVE priority to helping small firms, writes Michelle Thomson

A LOT of us, including myself, spent time during the referendum campaign busting myths. It’s nice to see that one more has been demolished with new figures from Scottish Development International.

Global firms, far from being put off investing here, actually invested 17 per cent more in 91 projects during 2014-15, despite all the scaremongering.

In fact, having a higher international profile probably did wonders in conveying just how good the investment potential is, both globally and nationally.

That’s a fact that clearly hasn’t escaped the astute attention of Jim McColl, who is sizing up the potential for Ferguson Marine to use Inchgreen Dock in Greenock to build larger ships than its current yard can manage.

It is this emphasis upon global opportunity and ambitious innovation that offers Scotland the chance to build upon what has already been achieved; to really break down barriers and deliver on a “can do” culture instead.

Economically and culturally, we in Scotland have somehow lost confidence in our own ability to build businesses ourselves.

Government initiatives can be a big driver. Everything from E-spark to the – now cut in half by the Tories – Capital Investment Allowance do help businesses develop, grow and create more jobs.

But Westminster is not the founder of economic regeneration. No, we must look to innovative ways that genuinely start shifting our attitudes to what we can really achieve. Deputy First Minister John Swinney has made a good start in his Scotland Can Do report. I have less confidence in George Osborne’s parallel report called Fixing the Foundations: Creating a More Prosperous Nation, a title without irony.

It talks a lot about the importance of buying houses and spending less on welfare plus the conceptual Northern Powerhouse. There isn’t much evidence of creating a climate of genuine encouragement for those who have smart, innovative ideas.

So it’s time to look more analytically at the scope to start and to grow new businesses. It is small businesses that form 99.9 per cent of private sector operations.

They are the backbone of our economy and merit far more support than they currently get.

• Michelle Thomson is SNP MP for Edinburgh West