Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce hosted a virtual roundtable between Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Fair Work and Culture within the Scottish Government and Chamber members, in advance of the Scottish Budget on January 28.
The discussion, which took place on Tuesday January 26, was based around the recent open letter published by the Chamber which highlights the ongoing challenges faced by the North-east business community as firms continue to operate under the stringent restrictions brought about by the CV19 pandemic.
The Cabinet Secretary answered questions from a range of member companies, primarily drawn from the Chamber’s elected policy council, on key issues of concern as businesses look towards both the Scottish Budget this week, and the UK Budget in March, to provide much-needed clarity around support schemes.
Topics raised included the region’s crucial role in driving the energy transition, the vital importance of extending out key business rates reliefs and further reform of the Non Domestic Rates system, the future of city centres and the need for further targeted support for key sectors such as life sciences and the third sector.
Commenting on the session, Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce said: “We were delighted to welcome the Cabinet Secretary for a further discussion on the severe and continuing economic impact of CV19 on the North-east of Scotland.
“It was a vital opportunity to raise some of the key challenges that our members need urgent clarity on – part of which we hope will be provided by the Scottish Budget - but also a real chance to talk about our path out of the pandemic and the transformative changes this may bring to our economy.
“One of the persistent themes of our discussion was the pressing need for a routemap out of the crisis, one which allows businesses to plan and sheds some light on what the process will be for easing restrictions as we make progress on reducing case numbers and rolling out the vaccine in the weeks ahead.
“We appreciated the constructive nature with which the Cabinet Secretary approached the discussion. Alongside the need for urgent clarity on the future of key support schemes, the Chamber will continue to press all levels of government for that crucial re-opening strategy, so that firms can start planning now for the formidable task of rebuilding our region following the pandemic.”