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News & Blog

Policy Update

Posted: 10th December 2020

It’s been a really busy time on the Policy front here at the Edinburgh Chamber –  between the continued impact of Covid-19 and the rapidly looming end of the Brexit transition period on 31st December, our politicians and policy makers are keeping us all on our toes. We have been communicating with you regularly on our key policy issues and our activities via our weekly newsletter, but below is a summary of some of the key issues the policy team have been focussing on most recently which you might be interested in.

At a local level:

  • Activity is still largely focussed on economic recovery, especially with reference to City Centre recovery, though issues related to Brexit increased in importance significantly as we rapidly approach the end of the transition period.
  • To support and focus on our local recovery, we have formed the Edinburgh Business Resilience Group, which consists of a cross section of Edinburgh’s businesses, public sector, third sector and key city stakeholders who will work together to contribute to the sustainable economic recovery of the City of Edinburgh.  Circa 50 organisations have joined the group, of all sizes, scales and sectors from across the city, which is independently Chaired by Ian Marchant, Chairman of Dunelm Energy.  The first meeting was held on the 30th November and we are in the process of drafting a ‘manifesto’ outlining our overarching purpose and objective.  A number of smaller ‘Task & Finish’ groups are being formed to focus on specific issues related to the recovery. The next meeting will be held on 15th Dec – if your organisation isn’t already represented and you’d like to join, please contact the policy team on the email address below.

At a national level:

  • Regular engagement has continued with Holyrood directly and with Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) to ensure we have a voice and a level of engagement at Scottish Government level.  Weekly SCC CEO calls are still taking place, with various expert speakers attending both to discuss relevant topics.
  • Our work here has focussed on engagement with Scottish Government on the new Tiering system, specifically on where Edinburgh sits in that system and how we can ensure we move down the levels as we should and that we exit it safely
  • Amongst other issues, we have also been engaged on additional support for business, additional support for City Centres given how adversely they have been affected, Freeports and specific support for our venues and the events sector.
  • We also liaised with our local MPs & MSPs on 2 specific issues impacting Edinburgh businesses:
    • we sent letters to all outlining our opposition to the scrapping of Tax Free Shopping in the UK. We also signed up to a letter to UK and Scottish Government on behalf of the wider Scottish business community calling for this decision to be reversed.
    • We also communicated with Scottish Ministers to call on them to reject the proposal put forward in the Scottish Governments Programme for Government delaying the Non Domestic Rates re-evaluation to 2023 from the scheduled 2022 date.  Consequently, Ben Macpherson MSP asked to meet with Liz and Jo in his capacity both as constituent MSP and Minister responsible for the proposal.  An in-depth conversation took place, with both sides expressing their views, and Mr Macpherson and his team outlining their reasoning in some detail. We agreed that engagement would continue, and we will arrange a roundtable session in the new year to facilitate further conversations.

At a UK level:

  • More regular meetings have been held with the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Campaign and Research Group, to inform BCC calls for greater support for specifically impacted sectors such as aviation and tourism, as well as broader ongoing business support.
  • We worked with BCC to develop their ‘5 tests’ document which was sent to both UK and Scottish Government, outlining 5 key questions businesses need Government to consider when implementing increased Covid-19 restrictions – this received significant press and media attention.
  • We also worked with them on other UK wide issues such as the network response to the UK Govt Comprehensive Spending Review, the Internal Market Bill and Local Authority Discretionary Grant allocations.

As ever, if you have a policy issue you’d like us to pick up on your behalf, of if you’d like to know more about what we are doing in each area, please get in touch with the team via policy@edinburghchamber.co.uk or speak to Alexia or Kate.

 

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