Today, the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) called on the UK Government and the Scottish Government to take urgent action to stabilise our economy and protect it for the future in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leaders from business, industry, education, trade unions and civil society came together with UK and Scottish Governments and local authorities to in a collective effort to address the social and economic impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Following the meeting SCDI CEO, Sara Thiam said: “Recent days have seen a flurry of announcements from both governments about how the UK’s economy is to be supported. Whilst all in the business community welcome these, they fell short of the kind of help governments across the EU have been extending to their workers and the companies who employ them. Funding needs to be easy to access and quickly and it needs also to be available to all organisations. Time is running out for many.

Thiam commented “No one has been left untouched by the current uncertainty. Immediate action to protect businesses, jobs and livelihoods is needed to stabilise the economy now and enable us to look to the future and prepare for recovery on the other side of this crisis.

SCDI discussed with our governments the urgent need to go further to stabilise our economy and protect it for the future. This included but was not limited to:

  • Targeted funding to retain jobs and maintain workers’ incomes through wage subsidy (in particular gig economy and self-employed) and to ensure employers’ responses align with fair work principles – as has been negotiated in Denmark and Sweden.
  • Direct government finance for businesses and organisations in the form of grants, especially targeted support for SMEs, start-ups and sole traders.
  • Easier, quicker access for businesses to loans, grants and other support from both governments and their agencies. Bureaucracy is causing dangerous delays.
  • Easier, quicker access for businesses to funding, payment reliefs and debt moratoriums from banks with the support of the Bank of England – as has been agreed in Germany and Italy.
  • Easier, quicker access for individuals and households to an enhanced level of social security.
  • Temporary Scottish ban on evictions to prevent tenants struggling to make payments due to COVID-19 are not made homeless – as has been implemented in England.
  • Clarity by regulatory authorities at EU, UK, Scottish and local levels on appropriate and temporary easing of regulations for employers.
  • Extension of the UK’s Brexit transition period beyond 31 December 2020.

Following the Chancellors announcement Thiam commented: “SCDI welcomes the unprecedented moves made this evening to support employees and there will continue to be a need for action to be taken as we deal with the impact of what unfolds. The pace of action to support businesses and their staff needs to keep up with developments but the steps taken now recognise the urgency of the situation to protect our economy and all the people to play such a vital role in it.

“We stand ready to play our part and to help our members get through this uncertain and challenging period. Scotland has done it before, and we will do it again.”