Our Research

The Union beyond Covid-19: A strengthened basis for business resurgence

October 2020

For too long, the success of businesses in Scotland has been held back by the Scottish Government’s relentless drive to break up the United Kingdom. Notwithstanding the challenges posed by Brexit, separation from the UK has been by far the biggest political risk factor that companies operating in Scotland have faced in the last decade.

Now that COVID-19 has severely impacted the economy, it imperils our recovery too. And while there may ultimately be a case for additional powers for Scotland in the future, the immediate priority must be broader rethink of how HM Government interacts with and benefits the devolved regions as the economy returns to growth again. Moreover, ways must be considered to make this activity more visible to the public, so that direct and unambiguous connections can be drawn between the activity of HM Government and positive effects within the communities it is tasked with supporting.

The Union beyond Covid-19: A strengthened basis for business resurgence

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Strengthening The Union – A framework for business success

February 2020

For too long, the success of businesses in Scotland has been held back by the Scottish Government’s relentless drive to break up the United Kingdom. Notwithstanding the challenges posed by Brexit, independence is by far the biggest political risk factor that companies in Scotland face. Moreover, ways must be considered to make this activity more visible to the public, so that direct and unambiguous connections can be drawn between the activity of HM Government and positive effects within the communities it is tasked with supporting.

Strengthening The Union

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Local Analysis – How Dundee’s economy benefits from Scotland’s place in the UK

May 2019

Dundee, Scotland’s fourth largest city, has an important place in Scotland’s economy, accounting for about 4% of economic output. The city has major opportunities for business and economic growth. Highlights include a growing and successful tech sector, the redevelopment of the waterfront and the opening of the V&A museum, which heralds a cultural renaissance. In the November 2018 budget, the UK government confirmed a £150m investment in a Tay Cities Deal in partnership with the Scottish Government to trigger £350m in total – a good example of devolved, local and national institutions working well together.

Local Analysis – Dundee

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Local Analysis: How Glasgow’s economy benefits from Scotland’s place in the UK

November 2018

Glasgow benefits greatly from Scotland’s place in the UK according to our latest analysis of official data

The analysis shows that 16% of Glasgow’s economic output is attributable to Scotland’s place in the UK.   The city remains a major beneficiary from Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom driven largely by growing and successful financial, IT, life science and engineering sectors. The report estimates that Scotland’s place in the UK boosts the Gross Value Added (GVA) of Glasgow by circa £3.3bn and supports more than 67,000 jobs.

The City is also benefitting from a £1.13bn city deal which is investing in infrastructure, life sciences and innovation over a twenty year period, designed to increase the gross value added of the area by 4% – a good example of devolved, local and national institutions working well together.  Glasgow’s key industries such as shipbuilding, advanced engineering and distilling also benefit from unrestricted access to UK markets.

Yet despite these positives, Glasgow’s economy differs significantly from other parts of Scotland which make its exposure to risk from Scotland’s departure from the United Kingdom all the greater.  These include:

  1. A higher proportion of Glasgow’s economy (25%) consists of public administration – including health and education – than the Scottish average (21%).  This means that Glasgow benefits disproportionately from the Union Dividend (higher public spending in Scotland) and other fiscal benefits that the UK brings. An independent Scotland would begin life with a large fiscal deficit, meaning that large cuts to public spending would be necessary.
  2. The city’s financial sector is 50% larger than the Scottish average and so the city benefits disproportionately from the UK’s regulatory framework. The sector is focussed on a UK client base and many Scots financial firms would need to move operations south of the border to remain within the UK financial framework. This would have a major impact on Glasgow. Of course, all Glaswegian businesses benefit from the lower interest rates and currency stability that Sterling brings.
  3. Overall, the Glasgow economy which consists largely of the financial sector, business services and manufacturing, is more export-oriented than Scotland as a whole.  Removing the benefits of unfettered access to the UK single market would have a profoundly negative impact on Glasgow and Scotland.
Local Analysis

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WIN WIN – The business case for Scotland’s place in the UK

September 2018

As part of the United Kingdom, Scotland has the potential to become one of the best places in the world to do business.

In this paper we demonstrate, using analysis based on official data provided by the Scottish Government, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and the official EU data service (EuroStat) how Scotland and Scottish business benefit as full partners in the United Kingdom. This includes the Government Expenditure and Revenues Scotland (GERS) dataset, an annual assessment of tax and spend in Scotland compared to the United Kingdom as a whole, which is carried out by Scottish Government Statisticians.

Notwithstanding the ongoing dual constitutional debate about Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom and Brexit, Britain as a whole is a stable and benign business environment which is highly attractive to global investors. Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom allows business here to share in key United Kingdom advantages such as its large and integrated single market and sophisticated monetary regime.

Read ‘Win – Win’ from SBUK

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Speaking up for business

  • Scottish Business UK provide a powerful voice for the business community who value our economic, social and family ties across the United Kingdom.  It is important that all voices are heard loudly and clearly to make the positive case for a strong and caring united Kingdom.

    — Scottish Lib Dem Leader, Willie Rennie MSP
  • Scottish Business UK understand that for our economy to flourish we have to work together across all parts of our United Kingdom. As people who are running businesses and creating jobs, they see clearly that the politics and grievance and division are putting the brakes on progress. I am a strong supporter of the great work they do to speak up for business and champion the UK.
    — Alister Jack MP, Secretary of State for Scotland
  • Day after day I hear from business owners who tell me their businesses are at breaking point due to the pandemic. What they ask for and what they need is for the Scottish government and the UK government to work together to support the economy and protect jobs. What they don’t need is more uncertainty, division and upheaval. Scottish Business UK has a vital role to play in giving those businesses a voice and making the positive case for cooperation across the UK family of nations.
    — Ian Murray MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotl...
  • Scottish Business UK boasts a diverse Advisory Council bringing together the views of business leaders from a broad range of backgrounds. The past few months have demonstrated how important it is for each nation of the United Kingdom to co-operate and we must ensure that over the next few months and years that Scotland’s two Governments work closely together to aid the pandemic recovery.  The economic case for remaining part of the United Kingdom is stronger than ever – we need to build on the strength of support we have seen from the UK Government to deliver security, prosperity and certainty for Scotland.
    — Scottish Conservative Leader, Douglas Ross MP
  • This is a time when we all need to work together. In the months and years ahead we need to concentrate on protecting jobs and strengthening the economy so we can provide everyone with security and peace of mind. A politics of division and separation sets that work back. Instead of dividing people, SBUK brings folk together from different backgrounds and businesses to make the case for co-operation and common sense. I am delighted to support the work of all the great Scottish figures behind SBUK.
    — The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP

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