Business voices concerns over 'muted' economic performance

House under constructionImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The SCC survey suggested construction was slowing in the three months to 30 June

Business leaders have called for tax breaks and certainty on the future of foreign workers amid signs that Scotland's economy was slowing down ahead of the Brexit vote.

A Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) survey suggested construction was slowing in the three months to 30 June.

Tourism's performance was found to be "markedly" worse than a year ago.

There was also little sign of improvement in manufacturing, retail and financial and business services.

SCC said it remained to be seen how the Brexit vote had impacted on this already "muted" economic performance.

It called for the UK and Scottish governments to take measures to head off a further slowdown.

The SCC report said: "Over the second quarter of 2016, business performance across the Scottish economy was more consistent than in the first quarter of the year, though both performance and optimism were generally lower than during the same period of 2015."

'Burning questions'

Neil Amner, chairman of the SCC economic advisory group, said: "The burning questions are how the vote for the UK to leave the European Union will affect businesses and what steps our governments in the UK and in Scotland should take to ensure that Scotland's businesses continue to be the dynamo of economic growth.

"The Brexit vote does not come without its opportunities but business must be in the driving seat if we are to take advantage of these and, indeed, secure the stability that is needed to foster investment and deliver future growth.

"Central to future planning is the need for clarity on the future of talented individuals currently working in Scotland.

"Everyone must have the confidence that they will be able to fulfil their long-term ambitions in Scotland, whether they currently live here or not.

"Scotland must become an even more attractive place to do business and must actively reach out to the world to create new trading and investment opportunities."

Mr Amner called on government "to reconsider policies which have sought to impose greater burdens on business" and use their "levers of power" to boost growth, with measures such as a cut in business rates, an accelerated reduction in Air Passenger Duty and shelving the Apprenticeship Levy.

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