Impact of COVID-19 on Scotland’s businesses, workers and economy
The Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee of the Scottish Parliament launched an urgent inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on Scotland’s businesses, workers and economy.
Our response to the Committee’s call for views was developed after intensified engagement with our members across all sectors and all geographies of the Scottish economy in the initial days and weeks of the crisis.
Our response highlights that the three key priorities for our members are short-term business survival, workforce health and wellbeing and preparing for the future beyond the crisis.
1. BUSINESS SURVIVAL
- Major concerns from many members across most sectors about their immediate cash flow, liquidity and viability.
- Urgent need for government and lenders to provide greater and more flexible financial support which is easy to access and injected into economy as quickly as possible.
- Urgent need to close gaps and resolve anomalies in support announced to date.
- Need for more consistent guidance, coordination and messaging to employers and workers from UK Government and Scottish Government.
2. WORKFORCE HEALTH & WELLBEING
- Concerns from all members across all sectors about impact of COVID-19, ‘lockdown’ and disruption on physical and mental health and wellbeing of their workforce.
- Need for government and employers to provide better and more flexible support (in short- and long-term).
3. OUR FUTURE
- Looking beyond the crisis to the ‘next normal’ for our society and our economy.
- Need to consider how the way we live, work and do business will (or should) change.
- Need to maintain industrial capacity for a strong recovery – and to consider what kind of recovery Scotland wants.
The business support announced to date by the UK Government and the Scottish Government has been strongly welcomed by our members and has already played an important role helping to save businesses, retain jobs and protect livelihoods.
Nevertheless, our response also underlines to the Committee that more needs to be done. There are a number of specific asks from our members to develop, reform or extend this support:
- UK Government, Scottish Government, local authorities, public agencies and banks should accelerate injection of grants, reliefs and loans into businesses and economy.
- UK Government and Scottish Government should coordinate clarity and consistency of guidance to employers and workers throughout crisis.
- UK Government should extend commitment to reimburse all Statutory Sick Pay due to COVID-19 from SMEs to all employers (esp. Health & Social Care employers).
- Scottish Government should develop tailored grants and reliefs packages for key sectors ineligible for current support (Food & Drink, Manufacturing etc.).
- UK Government should extend Self-Employed Income Support Scheme to recently self-employed and self-employed working for their own companies.
You can download our full response below.