More support for international trade and low carbon business strategies are two of the main asks from business leaders in Scotland, according research from advisory firm Grant Thornton in the days following the Scottish budget.
Censuswide surveyed 605 senior decision-makers in UK mid-market businesses – with an average annual turnover between £50m and £500m – between 28 January and 4 February, finding that 48% were very optimistic about revenue growth and 40% were at least somewhat optimistic about trading over the next six months.
Almost one in three (32%) want more government support for international trade, with 44% of businesses in the region actively planning to invest more to support global growth strategies.
A similar proportion (46%) were also very confident about their ability to mitigate the impact of Brexit, compared to just 36% of businesses in the wider UK sample.
Other key priorities included financial incentives and wider support for low carbon business strategies, with 44% of respondents calling for this, compared with only a third across the rest of the UK.
A further third of businesses (32%) cited an extension of business rates relief to be vital, as businesses in the retail, leisure, hospitality and aviation sectors navigate ongoing uncertainty during the recovery.
Andrew Howie, managing partner at Grant Thornton in Scotland, said that while there were no major surprises in Holyrood’s Budget last month, the pledge to extend rates relief, first by three months – and subsequently extended to a full year earlier this week – will be gratefully received by struggling businesses.
“The optimistic sentiment reported by businesses, particularly in relation to international trade and global markets not impacted by Brexit, is welcome.
“It is also reassuring to see such a large proportion of Scottish businesses prioritising low carbon ways of working – Scotland is truly setting the agenda in this vital area by hosting COP26 in Glasgow later in the year and our survey shows mid-market businesses want more government support to help them address the climate emergency too.
“If there are additional tranches of funding announced in the UK budget, there are two very clear areas where Scottish businesses would like Kate Forbes to focus it.”
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