ZERO UNEMPLOYMENT IN SCOTLAND...IF NEW SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT SUPPORTS PIVOTAL FAMILY BUSINESS SECTOR
SCOTTISH FAMILY BUSINESS ASSOCIATION : 24th Mar 2011
SFBA Chief Executive Martin Stepek made the claim at a Glasgow hustings today (March 21) arranged by the Bank of Scotland and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.
Taking part were John Swinney, SNP; Andy Kerr, Labour; Jeremy Purvis, Lib-Dem; and Gavin Brown, Conservative.
At the event, Mr Stepek criticised all the main Scottish political parties for failing to put the family business sector – the biggest wealth creator in Scotland - at the top of their agenda to take Scotland out of the current economic difficulties and reduce unemployment.
“It’s great to see BoS and Glasgow Chamber organising a hustings which allows family businesses to push the case for much greater recognition of this the largest sector in the Scottish economy,” he said. “But from today’s evidence, all the political parties fail to grasp the real importance and potential of family business, which is disappointing.
“There are over 200,000 people unemployed in Scotland at present. The public sector is experiencing the most severe cuts in living memory, and the private sector is being asked not only to mitigate the jobs lost in the public sector but reduce the current number of unemployed. Family businesses already employ half the private sector workforce, and if each family business employed three more people, it is a fact there would be zero unemployment in Scotland.
“I challenged all the politicians to say how, if in government, they would help Scottish family businesses take on these extra employees to both boost the Scottish economy and enhance the lives of those presently out of work. But all I got was the usual generalisations which, given the economic situation, is just not good enough.”
Mr Stepek cited one example where support and funding are skewed.
“Co-operative Development Scotland has received £1m per annum for the past four years, with two more years guaranteed at least at this level of payment. This is to help grow the co-operative and employee-owned sector, which I support wholeheartedly. However, co-ops in their widest sense only account for 4% of GDP. Given that family businesses have much more complex issues that require support, training and education, and given that they contribute 45% towards GDP – eleven times that of co-operatives – I urge the incoming administration to re-direct Scottish Enterprise’s budget to help family businesses lead Scotland out of recession.
“Don’t take the money from Co-operative Development Scotland; take it from other budgets and put it towards raising the quality of our family businesses. They will return the investment – in jobs, local wealth creation and a long-term sustainable economy.
“I made this plea this morning but none of the politicians gave an absolute commitment to act. We need radical changes and fundamental re-prioritisation - but sadly we got nothing specific from anyone today and that’s just not good enough.”
SFBA is supported by the Bank of Scotland, KPMG, Martin Aitken & Co. and Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie.
Martin Aitken Senior Partner Adrienne Airlie said: "The results from the hustings are disappointing for family businesses and their advisors, but not a complete surprise and I share Martin's frustration.
"The message that family businesses are the life-blood of the Scottish economy, not only financially but culturally, is being ignored and this has to change. Failure to support family businesses and the work of SFBA is so short-sighted."