More positive news on Scotland’s economic outlook

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By a Newsnet reporter

More positive news on the Scotland’s economic outlook has emerged this week, with figures demonstrating that more small and medium-sized businesses are successfully accessing finance.

The Scottish Government’s Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Access to Finance report for 2012 shows that 87% of firms were able to access the full amount of funds they applied for, up from 79% in 2009 and 2010.  The survey involved 1,011 firms across all sectors of the Scottish economy.

Small and medium sized businesses underpin the Scottish economy, accounting for around 54% of private sector employees – or around one million people – and about 37% of the entire economic output of the country.  The SNP Government provides these companies over £500 million every year in business rates relief.

The news that these vital companies are experiencing fewer difficulties in accessing necessary credit is a positive sign that SMEs are able to expand their businesses, creating economic growth and jobs.

Scotland continues to out-perform the rest of the UK economically.  Although the economic powers of the Scottish Parliament are limited, the Scottish Government’s economic strategy is based upon promoting growth, as opposed to the cuts and austerity agenda of Conservative Chancellor George Osborne.

The success of the Scottish strategy was also seen earlier this week it when it emerged that Scottish unemployment figures had fallen for the third consecutive month, and a report published by financial analysts Ernst and Young showed that Scotland is the most attractive part of the UK for foreign business investors.

Finance Secretary Swinney said that the findings of the Ernst and Young report were testament to Scotland’s attractiveness to foreign investors and the approach of the Government’s Economic Strategy, which encourages the public sector to work collaboratively with the private sector to accelerate economic growth and create jobs.

Commenting SNP MSP Paul Wheelhouse who sits on the Finance Committee said:

“The fact that more small and medium size businesses are successfully applying for finance is a signal that the health of the sector is further improving.

“With SNP measures such as the flagship Small Business Bonus scheme, Scotland has far and away the most supportive environment for SMEs in the UK.  The Scottish Government provides relief on business rates worth more than £500 million every year, a substantial figure that is critical to the operation of many businesses.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and are critical to the economic wellbeing of every local community in Scotland.  Ensuring they have access to funding allows them to grow and support more jobs, so these latest figures are extremely welcome.

“The SNP is determined to ensure that Scotland continues to enjoy the most competitive businesses environment in the UK.

“With the normal powers of an independent country we could achieve even more in our efforts to support businesses and grow the Scottish economy.

“However, these figures are extremely positive and clearly demonstrate that we are using the powers we do currently hold as effectively as possible.””