The next UK government must make sure the immigration system recognises Scotland’s “demographic challenges”, small business leaders have said.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland is also demanding the country’s high streets receive a “fair share” of cash aimed at boosting town centres, and for action to be taken to tackle the “patchy mobile coverage” parts of the country still endure.
With voters preparing to go to the polls and elect a new government on December 12, the FSB listed its demands for the next administration.
With just over a quarter (26%) of small firms in Scotland employing at least one person from the European Union – a total which rises to two-fifths (41%) in the Highlands – immigration is high on the list of priorities.
FSB Scotland policy chair Andrew McRae said: “Our next batch of MPs will likely need to make a number of important choices about the structure of a UK future immigration system.
“At every turn, we’re urging them to push for a regime that recognises Scotland’s demographic challenges and is user-friendly and affordable for smaller business.”
Mr McRae also insisted the next Westminster government “must dramatically improve Scotland’s mobile coverage provision, closing the connectivity gap between Scotland and England”.
He added: “Scotland’s patchy mobile coverage holds backs our businesses, as well as making many local places less attractive to visitors and potential residents alike.
“For years, decision-makers have failed to address this issue – the next UK Government must not. ”
With town centres having been hit with a raft of store closures in recent years, he went on to demand a “fair share” of the £3.6 billion Towns Fund is invested in Scotland.
Mr McRae said: “Over the last few years, Scotland’s local towns have been hit with hundreds of local closures. And there’s no end in sight as many big name brands announce restructuring programmes.
“That’s why we need to see the next UK government allocate a fair share of the £3.6 billion Towns Fund to Scotland.
“This generational investment would allow us to find new uses for empty properties and help us install low-carbon infrastructure, like charging stations, in the centre of our local places.”