The report, which builds on work set out in a range of previous reports, sets out eleven policies designed to improve the business environment in Scotland.
The recommendations include a call to scrap Air Passenger Duty upon its devolution to the Scottish Parliament. An Edinburgh Airport study estimated that there could be a £200m economic benefit from a 50% reduction in the tax, and Reform Scotland believes that its abolition will be of even greater benefit and improve the international reach of Scotland’s businesses.
The other recommendations include:
• Devolve business rates to local authorities in order that they can design their own schemes to suit local requirements
• Scrap fuel duty and vehicle excise duty and replace them with pay-as-you-drive road pricing
• Make Colleges autonomous charities, free from government control, to give them the same status as universities
• Transfer the functions of quangos either to local authorities, government departments or independent bodies
• Devolve more taxes to the Scottish Parliament, including Corporation Tax
• Reform the planning system, too often an inhibitor of economic growth, to incentivise local authorities
• A virtual voucher in childcare, with the money following the child to meet the needs of working parents • All government contractors should be compliant with the Prompt Payment Code, to end late payments culture
• A one-stop-shop for government advice to business, with quicker progress on mygov.scot
• Certified digital identification of angel investors to improve the efficiency of investment in small businesses
Most of our eleven recommendations involve powers which are either already devolved to the Scottish Parliament, or soon will be. Furthermore, Scotland is in a hugely advantageous position in that it is small enough to implement these policies quickly in order to create the attractive business environment which we need in order to create jobs and prosperity while also generating the money to finance schools, roads and other public spending.