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Summary: Programme for Government for 2023-24

Posted: 5th September 2023

Today Humza Yousaf announced his first Programme for Government for 2023-24, which he described as anti-poverty and pro-growth. One of the key announcements for business was to implement the recommendations of the New Deal for Business Group, which the Chamber network has been heavily involved in. This includes steps to identifying and remove regulations that are no longer required, establishing a new Small Business Unit and considering improvements to the Non-Domestic Rates system. Some of the other announcements around business, the economy, and related areas were:

On supporting business and the economy

  • A promise to implement the recommendations of the New Deal for Business Group, of which the Scottish Chambers of Commerce are a member. This will include:
    • working with business to identify and remove regulations that are no longer required
    • ensuring that businesses are engaged from the earliest stage of policy development
    • establishing a new Small Business Unit to ensure that the interests of small businesses are always considered
    • working with partners to transform the way the Government and their agencies provide support to small businesses and to help businesses raise productivity and reduce costs
    • considering improvements to the Non-Domestic Rates system – work is ongoing with the New Deal group on this
  • A new £15 million package of measures was promised to support entrepreneurship and innovation, including continued work to implement the recommendations of the Logan review, the Innovation Strategy, and Anna Stewart’s report on supporting women into enterprise
  • A dedicated Investment Unit will be established within the Scottish Government to act on the forthcoming recommendations of the First Minister’s Investor Panel and to provide a clear route for investor engagement
  • They will work with local authorities and employers to help those who face barriers to starting or re-starting work, including helping care leavers into employment
  • A commitment was made to work with the UK Government on promoting growth, including a discussion of some of the recent recommendations from the Hunter Foundation around using tax incentives and wider economic policy to support investment in key areas such as renewables
  • Recognising the role of childcare in helping parents return to work, benefiting families as well as the wider economy, the Programme promised to extend and simplify childcare provision, with expanded access to funded childcare for 13,000 more children and families by the end of this Parliament

On transport, housing and infrastructure

  • October will bring the start of a pilot scheme to remove peak fares from ScotRail services
  • Promised to continue planning reform, including digital transformation of the system
  • A Housing Bill will look to introduce long term rent controls, new tenants’ rights, and will create new duties around the prevention of homelessness
  • Committed to investing £752 million this year through the Affordable Housing Supply Programme, to help meet the longer-term target of 110,000 affordable homes by 2032
  • Continued investment of over £600 million in broadband networks was promised, as well as the launch of a seventh 5G Innovation Hub
  • Various commitments were made around improving roads including progressing the dualling of the A9, as well as investing in ferry services

On net zero and environmental policy

  • Almost £5 billion of investment will go into the net zero energy economy in Scotland over this parliamentary term
  • A Green Industrial Strategy will be developed, setting out how the Scottish Government intends to help businesses and investors realise the economic opportunities of the transition to net zero
  • Government will establish a sector deal with the onshore wind industry to half the consenting time for new wind farms, whilst also streamlining offshore wind processes
  • Committed to publishing a Solar Vision for Scotland, as well as continuing to implement the Hydrogen Action Plan
  • Agreed to work with businesses to develop plans for the delivery of the Deposit Return Scheme from 2025, subject to UK Government legislation

Over the coming days and weeks we will engage with members, policy makers and the wider Scottish Chambers network to analyse the full impact of the announcement on our member businesses and the wider Edinburgh economy.  As ever, if you have any thoughts, views or comments you’d like to share with us, or any insights into how you believe these measures impact your business, please contact

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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