Scottish Business Buzz

Scottish Business Buzz (10.01.18)

Written by Michelle Rodger

A majority of voters believe Scotland would be better off or have the same level of prosperity if it becomes independent, according to new research published today.

The report by Professor John Curtice for the National Centre for Social Research shows that 54 per cent of Scots think the country would be better off or remain the same, a rise of six per cent since the same question was asked by the survey team in February last year.

Broken down, the survey found that 35 per cent thought the economy would do better, 19 per cent the same, while 44 per cent thought it would do worse.

The findings provide a boost to the Yes cause and comes just weeks ahead of the expected publication by the First Minister of a long-awaited report on the SNP’s new economic thinking which she has said will be used to restate the case for independence. Expectation has been growing over recent weeks that she plans to hold a new vote on independence before Brexit in March next year.

Curtice’s report found people on both sides of the Border believed the UK economy would be in a worse state after Brexit, with 58 per cent of Scots thinking so, and 52 per cent of people in England and Wales sharing that belief – an increase from 46 per cent south of the Border since February.

It also found a majority of Scots want decisions about fishing and farming to be made in Scotland post-Brexit with 62 per cent saying decisions about fishing should be made by the Scottish Government once powers have been repatriated from Brussels, and 59 per cent believing the same for farming.

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Aberdeen has shot up from eighth to second in the UK in terms of its growth and job creation across the third quarter of 2017 to become one of the UK’s best performing city economies.

The UK Powerhouse study provides an estimate of GVA growth and job creation within 45 of the UK’s largest cities 12 months ahead of the Government’s official figures.

The latest report, produced by Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), revealed that Aberdeen is now second only to Cambridge in terms of GVA growth in Q3 2017 after recording a rate of 2% in the period. The position marked an improvement on the city’s eighth place ranking in Q2.

In comparison, Glasgow and Edinburgh recorded growth of 1.5% and 1.1% across the quarter respectively, with all three cities also experiencing moderate employment growth.

Looking ahead to 2018, the report predicted Glasgow would enjoy the strongest growth out of the three across the year (1.28%), with Aberdeen’s GVA set to grow by 1.24% and Edinburgh’s by 1.15%.

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An innovative micro finance loan fund to support SMEs in Scotland has loaned £2m to more than 130 new and existing businesses across the country, creating more than 200 jobs in the last year.

The Scottish Microfinance Fund (SMF) has a dedicated £6m pot of funding to lend new and existing SMEs loans of up to £25,000 and is part of a larger £40m boost from the Scottish Government’s SME Holding Fund. The Scottish Microfinance Fund aims to provide access to finance for businesses which have been refused by larger lending providers such as banks.

The fund is managed and delivered by DSL Business Finance Ltd (DSL) with the support of the Scottish Government, Start-up Loans Company (SULCo) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

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SMEs are owed £26.3bn in late payments from customers and clients, some of which is outstanding more than 60 days beyond agreed terms.

Research by Bacs Payment Schemes Limited found that almost half (47%) of the UK’s SMEs are being paid late by customers and clients, with the average late payment debt standing at £32,185.

A third of those who experience late payments said they are being kept waiting at least one month beyond their stated payment terms, while a quarter said this can extend to over 60 days beyond agreed terms.

Late payments have a significant impact on SMEs, with almost a third of SMEs impacted by late payments admitting they are forced to pay their suppliers late as a result.

They also affect their ability to pay staff and overheads on time, with 20% revealing they have difficulty paying business bills such as energy, rates and rents and 12% admitting it impacts their ability to pay staff on time.

SMEs are resorting to costly overdrafts (29%) and salary sacrifices at director level (19%) to make up for cash flow shortfalls due to late payments and ensure vital cash is kept within their businesses.

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A new survey into business confidence in Scotland has backed up Business for Scotland EU survey findings published last month.

The Business in Britain report found just 38 per cent of Scots companies are confident that the UK Government is working to safeguard industry in talks with Brussels.

The figure marks a drop from the 49 per cent recorded previously, while the number of enterprises expressing a lack of confidence has risen ten per cent to 35 per cent.

Around half said their business will be negatively affected if the UK leaves the bloc without a trade deal.

According to the BfS survey,  90% of business leaders d0 not trust the UK government to secure the best deal for Scotland and almost 89% do not trust the UK negotiating team to secure the best deal for the UK.

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Business for Scotland survey

Auchrannie, the Isle of Arran-based resort, has completed its transition into employment ownership and is believed to be the first hotel or resort in Scotland to make such a move.

The Johnston family has transferred the ownership of the luxury hotel and leisure destination to Auchrannie’s 160 employees, nearly 30 years after Iain and Linda Johnston acquired the hotel in 1988, in a move designed to safeguard its future as an independent business.

The transfer has been made to retain the community-focused ethos of the resort established by Linda and Iain Johnston, who have played a key role in the promotion of tourism on the Isle of Arran. Mr Johnston passed away in 2015, but Auchrannie managing director Linda Johnston will continue to lead the Brodick-based business once the transition is complete. The rest of the current management team will also remain in place.

There are now 92 employee-owned companies with about 7,000 employee owners in Scotland, turning over around £930.

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Investors in Scotland view Brexit and low interest rates as the biggest threats to their wealth, according to a new survey of more than 1,000 UK savers and investors and 500 High Net Worth Individuals.

50 per cent of investors surveyed by Rathbone Investment Management saw Brexit as a major threat to their wealth and the same amount considered perpetually low interest rates as a key concern. By comparison, just 35 per cent saw inflation as an obstacle to building and maintaining wealth.

Numerous economic bodies have predicted recently that Brexit will have a negative effect on the UK economy and consumer finances, and this survey shows that so far the majority of Scottish investors feel ill prepared for the UK’s upcoming exit from the EU.

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About the author

Michelle Rodger

Michelle is a former national newspaper journalist who co-founded an award-winning IT business before launching Tartan Cat Communications. A social media and crowdfunding expert she manages media and communications for Business for Scotland.

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