Britain’s business scene will change forever today as thousands of people turn out to vote in the elections for the Scottish parliament and Welsh assembly.
One of the most significant British constitutional events for 300 years, many business people believe devolution will grant Wales and Scotland greater control over their economic destinies. By developing indigenous businesses, runs the argument, both nations can be more proactive in attracting inward investment and promoting themselves.
In Wales, ministers have backed small businesses as the key to economic success following a string of failures which has seen several large corporations pull out of South Wales. Business groups have also supported training schemes to offer workers new skills which they can transfer to other jobs and thus move away from dependence on unskilled manufacturing and assembly work. In Scotland, however, the business community has been less enthusiastic about the role a devolved parliament will play in its future. Scottish business has so far failed to recognise the importance of getting parliament’s backing, a situation that ACCA fears may mean businesses fail to achieve a significant voice in future decision making.
The parallels with the Welsh economy are clear. Traditional industries are declining and many need to realign and take on more responsibility for the economic health of Scotland.
But once the elections are out of the way, businesses will get on with the job of promoting themselves and working with the new parliament and assembly to ensure their long-term success – whatever the legislative changes those new structures bring.
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