Scottish councils looking to make savings and raise additional income could put real pressure on the local business communities, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is warning Holyrood today.
In its submission to the Scottish Parliament's Local Government committee, the FSB in Scotland says it expects local authorities to be tempted to raise fees and charges while cutting business support and economic development services.
The small business lobby group also warns against local authority led ventures selling goods and services that directly compete with their local businesses in their communities.
Andy Willox OBE, the FSB's Scottish Policy Convenor, said:
"Balancing the books will be difficult for many of Scottish local authorities. But they must resist the temptation to take more from, compete with and deliver less to Scotland's small businesses.
"Squeezing the very businesses that we're expecting to create jobs and deliver growth doesn't make any sense. Further, good planning and economic development services will be more important than ever to take advantage of whatever recovery and opportunities are over the horizon.
"Lastly, the aggregation of procurement contracts makes it more difficult for small businesses to compete. Looking at delivering services differently doesn't mean walking into the arms of multinationals."
In its submission he FSB also points out that better, more co-ordinated, cross-agency regulatory services could be a key area where local authorities could make savings. It says:
"Regulatory services, such as planning, trading standards and environmental health, have experienced sustained but uncoordinated decline in recent years and this is likely to be exacerbated by forthcoming spending cuts. Rather than continued decline, a strategic approach to our regulatory services and ensuring a good regulatory environment is now required. A national discussion about how we ensure consistent and efficient regulation by local authorities is long overdue."
The FSB goes on to argue that a business impact assessment should be conducted by any local authority considering new ways of generating income.
The FSB's evidence is to the Scottish Parliament's Local Government committee Inquiry into the Scottish Government Spending Review 2011 and Draft budget 2012-2013
Notes to editors
- The FSB is Scotland's largest direct-member business organisation, representing over 20,000 Scottish members in every sector of the economy. UK-wide, it has over 200,000 members.
- The FSB's full submission to the Scottish Parliament's Local Government and Regeneration Committees Inquiry into the Scottish Government Spending Review 2011 and Draft budget 2012-2013 can be found here: http://www.fsb.org.uk/policy/rpu/scotland/assets/cr_lgc_spendingreviewdraftbudget_oct2011.pdf
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