It's been a busy start to the year for the policy team at Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce with the voice of the North-east business community being heard loud and clear by key politicians from Holyrood to Westminster.
The Chamber hosted its first policy council session of the year in January at Trump International Golf Links. Supported by Jane Gratton, head of people policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, members provided input into the BCC’s Workplace Training and Development Commission.
The council also endorsed the Q1 Policy Action Plan for the Chamber. This plan focuses on meaningful progress linked to key priority areas within oil and gas, energy transition, rail connectivity, Brexit support and preparation, and the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill.
The Chamber team took the agreed Policy Action Plan straight to Westminster, initially for meetings with our local MPs, discussing the Chamber’s priorities with Kirsty Blackman MP, Stephen Flynn MP, Richard Thomson MP and Andrew Bowie MP.
The Westminster trip was capped off with a session with the Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack MP, with colleagues at the British Chambers of Commerce.
Policy and research manager Shane Taylor said: “We used the meeting as an opportunity to review correspondence between the Chamber and the Secretary of State, outlining our economic ambitions as a region and the key areas where the UK Government can act to support their delivery.
“Points of discussion included the transformational sector deal for the oil and gas industry, the importance of leveraging COP26 to showcase the North-east’s energy transition credentials, and the upcoming Air Passenger Duty review as an opportunity to create a level playing field for the region.”
BEIS visit to Aberdeen
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is seeking input about the functioning of the UK internal market to ensure it continues to operate smoothly for UK businesses in the future.
The Chamber facilitated site-visits to members and the day was finished off with a meeting with chief executive Russell Borthwick.
Roundtable with the Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, Jamie Hepburn MSP
The policy team also organised a roundtable session with the Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, Jamie Hepburn MSP in February. The session focused on the issues and challenges in the manufacturing/advanced manufacturing industry, and any other issues within the Ministers portfolio.
There are a number of consultations currently underway which members may wish to feed into:
Freeport (deadline April 20)
The government is working to boost economic activity across the UK, ensuring that towns, cities and regions across the country can begin to benefit from the opportunities of leaving the EU. As part of this work, the government aims to create up to 10 freeports in locations across the UK.
For more information, click here.
Pre-budget scrutiny 2021-22 – internationalisation and the role of SDI (deadline April 17)
The Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee is seeking written submissions on the role of Scottish Development International (SDI) in supporting Scotland’s business base to improve economic competitiveness and performance via internationalisation. Furthermore, given the currently fluid nature of the Brexit process, the Committee would like to hear your views on how SDI interventions are evolving, and how resources are being allocated to meet strategic priorities.
For more information, click here.
If you want to contribute to any of these consultations, please get in touch with Vanessa at email@example.com prior to the consultations deadline.
Non-domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill
The Chamber team also continued some of its lobbying work on the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill. Following on from delivering a presentation to the Aberdeen Inspired board on rates developments, the team had a call with Andy Wightman MSP, who had put forward controversial amendments linked to local authority rates control, to outline the perspective of the North-east on business rates.
The asks were then put directly to Jackson Carlaw MSP, interim leader of the Scottish Conservatives, at a roundtable session at Skene House.