OUR economy is going through turbulent times, with high inflation, rising interest rates and the ongoing effects of Brexit all putting businesses under huge pressure.

Central to the SNP Government’s vision for a wellbeing economy which provides opportunities for all is promoting an economy where our businesses thrive, create jobs and provide good livelihoods. As the economy prospers, the Government can allocate more resources towards social programs that tackle poverty and uplift disadvantaged communities.

With the UK set to have among the lowest growth rate in the G7 and Scotland facing disproportionate disadvantages due to Brexit, the Scottish Government is doing what we can to try to mitigate these impacts; for instance, through our non-domestic rates policy, the UK’s most generous relief scheme for small businesses, which is estimated to take over 100,000 properties out of rates altogether.

However, last week the UK Government made clear where their priorities lie. To the delight of the Tories and the near silence of Labour, Rishi Sunak has pushed ahead with Liz Truss’s plan to axe the cap on bankers’ bonuses, despite warnings that boosting bumper payouts for the rich is “obscene”.

Meanwhile, a report issued last week by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation highlighted that the number of people experiencing poverty in the UK has increased by 61 per cent between 2019 and 2022. This is shocking. The same report stated: “Scotland’s relative position has improved. This may indicate the protective effect of devolved policies such as the Scottish Child Payment, Scottish Welfare Fund and the mitigation of some cuts to benefits.”

The Scottish Government has chosen a different path. Although they have been able to soften some of the damage, Scotland needs independence to grow our economy for everyone. Supporting and nurturing businesses must remain a top priority for Scotland to continue its journey towards a brighter, more equitable future.