Scotland election manifestos 2021 – what’s in them for small businesses?

Ahead of the election on May 6, we've rounded up the small business pledges from each of the Scottish political party manifestos

We’ve got the 2021 election in Scotland coming up on May 6.

To help you decide who to vote for, we’ve summed up all of Scotland’s political party pledges geared towards small businesses.


  • Continue the Small Business Bonus, benefiting more than 100,000 businesses. Invest £100m to help SMEs get the right digital skills and equipment
  • Maintain Business Growth Accelerator which removes rates liabilities for the first 12 months after occupation of previously empty property.
  • Establish a new £10m fund to allow companies to pilot and explore the four-day working week. Use these learnings to consider implementing a four-day working week as and when Scotland has full control over employment rights. Identify additional employment rights and assess the economic impact of moving to a four-day working week
  • Create a dedicated Women’s Business Centre to provide financial support, advice and training to women looking to start or grow their business. This will be backed by £50m over the course of the parliament
  • Create a new, £20m Rural Entrepreneur Fund – this will provide grants of up to £10,000 to support the creation of 2,000 new businesses
  • Implement the recommendations of the Logan Review to raise our tech sector to world-class status including the proposed creation of a national network of world class facilities – backed by £30m – to develop new tech start-ups that can grow into companies of scale offering high quality, well paid jobs. ‘Tech-Scaler’ hubs will be created in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. We will also ensure that the commercial education on offer in these hubs is accessible virtually to ensure access for businesses in rural areas
  • Explore the introduction of a new national digital sales tax to level the playing-field between online and digital and use any revenue from this to breathe new life into our town and city centres
  • Publish a Retail Strategy to help the sector in Scotland change, innovate and thrive and become an exemplar in inclusive growth, supporting a robust, local supply chain and offering people and communities the goods, experiences and services they want. We will build on the recent Scotland Loves Local campaign which encouraged people to think local first by piloting local loyalty schemes alongside a national Scotland Loves Local loyalty scheme. Introduce a new £10m Scotland Loves Local fund will help revitalise high streets hit by the pandemic


  • Full fibre broadband for every business and household by 2027
  • Introduce a ten-working day national standard for all grant applications to be processed, with support for councils that are lagging behind. Simplify the interface for businesses to access Government support, both for Covid and non-Covid related funding. Ensure that businesses likely to remain closed for the longest, like nightclubs, continue to receive regular payments
  • Delay the introduction of any new non-Covid-related regulations on businesses to April 2023. Introduce a one-week minimum adaptation period between the announcement and introduction of new restrictions, in the instance that they are required for a future local or national outbreak
  • Look to offer at least 25 per cent rates relief to businesses in 2022-23
  • Maintain the poundage rate freeze until the 2023 revaluation
  • Retain the Small Business Bonus Scheme and introduce a more tapered scheme on rates relief for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 and £20,000
  • Undertake a wholesale review of the business rates system before the end of the Parliament. This work would be informed by the ongoing review in England
  • Deliver growth and create jobs in every part of our country, we would bring forward an Enterprise Bill establishing an economic development agency in each region of Scotland
  • Expand the GlobalScot network to enhance Scotland’s international presence and exports
  • Oppose tourist tax


Rather than a conventional manifesto, Labour has released a ‘National Recovery Plan’.

  • Supplementary funding to kick-start ‘Kickstart’ by providing a further six months of subsidy for wages, encouraging businesses to employ young people in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance or Employment Support Allowance. In exchange for the wage subsidy, employers would need to guarantee a permanent job at the end of the scheme
  • Reinvigorate apprenticeships across Scotland targeting 5,000 new places in the next financial year, with subsidised wages to raise pay for all and working with local authorities to establish local ‘Share an Apprentice’ schemes
  • Restructure and grow the Scottish National Investment Bank so it can provide seed funding for new ideas, offer investment for ‘capital for good’ projects and support businesses to transition towards greener and more digital futures, all while creating jobs and supporting our Good Work principles
  • Bring shoppers back to our town centres with a £75 prepaid card to every adult in Scotland to be spent in non-food retail businesses
  • Scottish Government funded subsidies of holiday accommodation across Scotland whereby any tourist travelling within or to Scotland receives every 3rd night of accommodation free on off-peak dates between September to November 2021
  • Deliver a High Street Bailout plan with reduced business rates on non-grocery bricks and mortar shops. Set up a taskforce to fully examine how business rates need to change to ensure the digital economy makes a fair contribution to local services
  • Support the establishment of a Business Restart Fund to continue to support businesses facing financial hardship as a result of restrictions. Support businesses to transition into new markets or online through the establishment of a Business Transition Fund
  • Prioritise local procurement by having a ‘local first’ approach to all procurement. Encourage local authorities to do the same to ensure that local businesses get the best opportunity to bid for local contracts
  • Work with local authorities to promote alternative business models including cooperatives, social enterprises, and in-house provision

Liberal Democrats

  • 2,000 paid graduate internships with small businesses
  • Encourage enterprise bodies to value and support more small and micro businesses, taking account of local community impacts, supporting them beyond the start-up phase to include expansion, collaboration and diversification
  • Overhaul public sector procurement policies to ensure they support local suppliers, micro-bidders, fair employment practices and to take note of the level of state aid in non-Scottish bids
  • Ensure the mission for the Scottish National Investment Bank is ambitious and diverse. It should maintain the supply of risk capital into early-stage businesses and act as a guarantor in low income, rural, under-banked business opportunities working in partnership with enterprise agencies to ensure wrap-around support
  • Provide transition support and specialist low carbon advice free of charge to businesses on how to minimise the impact of their work on the environment
  • Encourage colleges to become rural enterprise hubs, meeting local skills needs and supporting innovative new businesses
  • Roll out superfast broadband to support business growth, education and public services in rural areas
  • Support the target to double Scottish food and drink turnover to £30 billion by 2030


  • Establish a Good Business Council to advise the Scottish Government on the delivery of a green economic recovery
  • Use existing rural development schemes to support the development of businesses linked to forestry
  • It will enshrine the Right to Food in Scots law, oblige the Scottish Government to deliver a statutory National Food Plan, and reform procurement law to oblige public kitchens to source food from more small local businesses and organic producers
  • Increase direct support for horticulture and market gardening businesses, including community and social enterprises
  • Make all public support to fisheries businesses, including licences and quotas, conditional on operating in an environmentally and socially responsible way
  • End government support for businesses involved in the nuclear weapons supply chain
  • Amend the Scottish Government Sustainable Procurement Strategy to allow artists, creative freelancers and microbusinesses equal access to procurement opportunities
  • Develop a match-funding scheme to help small businesses and charities advertise in their local media

Reform UK Scotland (formerly The Brexit Party)

  • The party would also abolish business rates for small and medium firms, would introduce internet sales tax
  • Support local businesses to open in high street premises so that they can establish themselves
  • Free up 1.2m small businesses and self-employed from paying corporation tax

Read more

Covid-19 roadmap – when can I reopen my business in Scotland?

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.

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