The Scottish Government has unveiled a £500 million business support fund in a move described by the First Minister as an “an exceptional response to an exceptional economic challenge”.

The proposal is one of 14 Bills the Scottish Government will introduce.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the business support fund was a “half billion pound vote of confidence in Scottish business, Scottish workers and the Scottish economy”.

She said Holyrood was now operating in a “new political, economical and constitutional context” post Brexit.

The proposals will be backed with a pledge to spend £4 billion on infrastructure projects in the next year in a bid to boost growth.

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government will use devolved powers outlined in the Scotland Bill to adapt to changes.

The £500 million growth scheme will include investment guarantees – where the Scottish Government will share some investment risk with business on investments - and loans of up to £5 million to small to mid-sized firms who are aiming for growth but are unable to access expansion finance.

Reacting to the First Minister’s Programme for Government, Scottish Retail Consortium director, David Lonsdale, said: “There is much in this announcement that the retail industry can support, especially the measures on infrastructure, housing and skills.

“As Scotland’s largest private sector employer the retail industry would however have liked to have seen a stronger emphasis on policies which put money into people’s pockets, keep down the cost of doing business and encourage retail investment.

“We will be looking to the upcoming Scottish Budget for further measures to improve competitiveness and promote productivity.”

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Scottish Policy Convener, Andy Willox, said: “Despite the current economic headwinds, businesses are still ready to invest.

“Thus, we will be interested to see what sort of small businesses are eligible to take advantage of the £0.5 billion Scottish growth scheme.

“We need to make sure that government initiatives back our business base.”

CBI Scotland Director, Hugh Aitken, said he was “encouraged” by the Scottish Growth Scheme. Adding: “Medium-sized businesses deserve special focus as they often fall between the gaps of support for ‘small and ‘large’ firms.”

Source: The Daily Record

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