DIVERGENT VOICES from across the UK business landscape are breathing a collective sigh of relief as Scottish voters expressed their desire to remain within the Union.
But the one certainty is that the political and fiscal landscape will never be same.
Phil Orford, chief executive of national small business organisation, the Forum of Private Business, said: “The fact that Scotland’s business owners and leaders spoke out on both sides of the debate highlighted the difficulty faced by many employers and employees when deciding on which way to vote.
“Many of our members, and other small businesses owners, will be relieved with the outcome, given the uncertainty for business which has been created throughout the campaign, which would have surely continued in the event of a yes vote. Others will be frustrated having seen business opportunities in an independent Scotland.
“For all business owners, regardless of the way they voted, it is now vital that they focus on growing their businesses over the coming years with a relative platform of stability. The Forum of Private Business will ensure their voice is heard by Scotland’s leaders to help positively influence the use of additional powers that Westminster has already promised to grant them.”
Most vociferous among them is the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA), which is calling on Westminster to “urgently address the substantial constitutional and financial issues thrown up by the referendum result”.
It highlights the “substantial public spending gap that exists between England and the three home nations with devolved powers – with even Lord Barnett himself, who designed the formula, calling it a ‘terrible mistake’ and ‘national embarrassment’.”
In 2012/13, public spending per head in each of the home nations was £10,876 in Northern Ireland, £10,152 in Scotland, £9,709 in Wales and just £8,529 in England.
Jonathan Isaby, TPA chief executive, said: “The people of Scotland have spoken, but in their last-ditch attempt to save the Union politicians have also saved the unfair Barnett Formula. It is outdated and has spectacularly failed to address the extremely inequitable situation of taxpayers from one home nation heavily subsidising others. English taxpayers want an end to subsidising Scotland and the Scottish government wants financial control devolved to Holyrood, so now is the ideal time to abolish the Barnett Formula entirely.
“Furthermore, as even more power is set to be handed to the Scottish Parliament, the time has come to end the anomaly of Scottish MPs voting on policy for other parts of the UK where Westminster MPs have no such say North of the border. English votes for English laws is the only fair way to proceed.”
Richard Rose, tax partner at accountants and business advisors BDO said: “Following the no vote Britain’s small and medium sized businesses are still likely to be faced with changes to the business landscape. The increased devolution of powers to Scotland, promised in the last weeks of the campaign will give the Scottish Parliament control over certain aspects of the Scottish tax system.
“For the first time individuals living in Scotland and Scottish businesses could pay taxes at different rates to those in force within the rest of Great Britain. These potentially differing rates are likely to have the largest impact in the borders, where small and medium-sized businesses could be faced with an uneven playing field when competing commercially or vying to recruit and retain top talent.”
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