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Political parties urged to work with business to expand economy

As Britain’s political parties began their last conference season before the next General Election, Chambers of Commerce have called on politicians to deliver a clear vision to allow businesses the freedom to create jobs, opportunity and growth as the country emerges from recession.

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) said the election would be of vital concern to businesses in Scotland. While many areas of policy had been devolved to the Scottish Parliament for a decade, Westminster continued to hold the purse strings and make key decisions in fiscal policy, defence spending, air transport and foreign affairs, SCC commented.

Gregor Murray, Executive Director of Midlothian and East Lothian Chamber of Commerce, said all political parties had to realise that it was businesses that would create the jobs, opportunities and wealth that would expand the Scottish economy as the country exited the recession.

“However, in order to secure our future national prosperity, it will be necessary for government to keep a firm grip on public finances while freeing businesses to grow,” he said.

Transport infrastructure spending over the next spending review period and beyond had to be protected, and greater efficiencies in procurement and construction achieved.

He added that the next UK Government would be faced with tackling the legacy of the deepest recession in decades, reining in public spending, and identifying future sources of economic growth and jobs.

No government could face these challenges alone, Mr Murray said. Local Chamber members, from sole traders to nationally known organisations, believed it was up to Government to provide confidence and the right economic and fiscal environment, and up to businesses to respond by increasing competitiveness and delivering growth.

In Midlothian and East Lothian, some small and medium-sized businesses still faced problems accessing finance as well as difficult trading conditions, he continued.

“As we work ourselves out of recession, the business community is prepared to work constructively with all tiers of Government in order to find the right solutions,” Mr Murray said.