At the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, we work to ensure member views on key policy issues are represented at all levels of government. We aim to inform and influence on behalf of our members on issues that are important to them, enabling members to engage in key conversations, and working to influence policymaking.
Our policy work ranges from keeping our members up to date on important policy developments, to hosting events that allow members to discuss and engage directly with stakeholders and policymakers. We participate in a range of meetings, boards, groups, and forums across Edinburgh, to ensure that the concerns of our members are represented in the areas that matter most. We also have policy groups of our own, including the Inspiring Communities group, which aims to build the relationship between business and third sectors, the Inspiring Talent group, which aims to influence and contribute to the talent and skills agenda of the City, and our Policy Group, which is responsible for developing our policy strategy and priorities. We also occasionally run short-term working groups such as our Edinburgh Business Resilience Group, to inform our work around topical issues such as Covid recovery.
On behalf of our members, we also engage with local and national consultations, run campaigns, and lobby on many different policy issues. We do this based on regular research and the insights that we gather from the local business community, and by engaging directly with policymakers and stakeholders, as well as through the Scottish Chambers of Commerce network, and the British Chambers of Commerce network.
We welcome any questions or comments relating to policy issues, and our Policy Team can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Policy Priorities
Our policy work is centred around three key areas that affect the city – People, Place and Prosperity. Additionally, we always endeavour to keep in mind our core purpose as a Chamber of Commerce: to make Edinburgh the best home for business. Therefore, based on ongoing engagement with our members and our understanding of the key issues facing Edinburgh’s businesses today, we are also focused on a number of specific issues such as:
- Business Support;
- Infrastructure and Investment;
- Tourism, Culture, Festivals and Live Events;
- Sustainability and Climate
- Digitisation and Connectivity
Our activity is concentrated around these specific points, but we also respond to major policy issues as and when they arise. We continue to engage with our members and the wider business community to better understand views on our priority issues, developing campaigns and ensuring key concerns are represented.
For more information or to discuss policy issues, please contact Joanne Davidson, Director of Policy at email@example.com
Key asks and achievements
At the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, we work together with the wider British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) and Scottish Chamber of Commerce (SCC) networks to engage with key policymakers and stakeholders to ensure that our members’ views on key policy issues are represented at all levels of government.
Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, we focussed considerable effort on campaigning for support for our members and the wider business community via BCC and SCC, making some key asks and achieving some crucial wins from both the Scottish and UK governments. Here you can see just a small selection of the policies we’ve been campaigning for:
- We asked: protect jobs through providing businesses with funding to retain employees, and providing income support for the self-employed
- We achieved: launch and extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, as well as the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme
- We asked: maintain cash flow through suspending Business Rates and giving more support for start-ups. We also asked the Scottish Government to provide sector-specific support for key industries
- We achieved: a suspension for Business Rates, VAT and NI payments for many sectors with some rates relief extended to at least March 2022, along with various sector-specific grants and support schemes.
- We asked: provide clarity for businesses on Government plans for businesses post-lockdown and provide sector-by-sector workplace health guidance to allow businesses to reopen safely and confidently
- We achieved: a Scottish Government route map out of lockdown as well as specific sectoral guidance
We have also recently made some asks of the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC):
- Engage with the city’s business community in a meaningful and ongoing way to ensure that economic needs are considered alongside health and social concerns in decision making and planning, and the foundation is laid for a long term sustainable recovery
- Use any and all levers within its control to support economic recovery, including appropriate reductions in Non-Domestic Rates and improved planning and development processes to encourage investment and increased productivity
- Use the City’s position as the capital of Scotland available to lobby central government on policy areas which are not devolved to local level, to promote the interests of the Edinburgh economy in key areas such as culture, festivals, live events and the arts.
Another, more specific example of our influence is the role that we have played in the Waverley Station Masterplan, having been pivotal in its initiation. Waverley Station is a critical gateway to Edinburgh, and by extension to Scotland, but conversations with some of our Partner and Corporate members suggested many felt this was not a fitting gateway to the capital city, with inadequate retail space and a confusing layout without clear signage. However, it was also recognised that Waverley is a complex historical site, requiring a large amount of investment and development, and that any meaningful improvements to the station as a whole would need the involvement of several different stakeholders from both the public and private sector.
We, therefore, made efforts to connect key decision-makers in this City to address this issue, hosting a dinner for major stakeholders such as the City Council, train operators and Network Rail who we felt would be best placed to bring about the changes needed. It was agreed that bold policy and action was needed, alongside true collaboration, to achieve a Waverley that makes the most of the commercial opportunities, creates the best possible first impression of our City, and works for all station users and service providers. Since then, significant work has been done on a Waverley Station Masterplan, and the Chamber has remained involved in the Steering and Working groups, to ensure that the interests of our members continue to be represented throughout the process.