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Leadership and long-term thinking needed on costs crisis, says business chief

Solving the cost-of-living crisis will require leadership and long-term thinking, a business leader said as he urged the First Minister and Prime Minister to form an “economic coalition” with firms.

Stephen Leckie, president of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, told representatives of businesses across the country on Thursday that Nicola Sturgeon and Rishi Sunak should work together with companies to make Scotland “one of the best places in the world to do business”.

Speaking at the chambers’ annual Scottish business address in Glasgow alongside Ms Sturgeon, Mr Leckie said the cost-of-living crisis has “switched to a cost-of-doing-business crisis”.

He said: “For months now, businesses have been experiencing huge increases in input costs and our request to government is that businesses cannot reach for the ambition which I know they so passionately believe in without government’s intervention north and south of the border.

“The cost-of-living crisis will take many lives and even more livelihoods and it calls for leadership and long-term thinking.

“The consequences of getting policy choices wrong now could resonate for years.”

Stressing the need for cross-border collaboration, Mr Leckie said: “I urge the First Minister and Prime Minister to forge an economic coalition with the business community and place the economy, business and jobs to the top of the political agenda.

“We want more investment in Scotland, we want more businesses to be here, and for people to be attracted to come and live here.

Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon attended the Scottish Chambers of Commerce annual Scottish business address on Thursday (PA)

“We want it to be a known fact that Scotland is one of the best places in the world to do business. It hasn’t always felt like that in recent years. We must restore it.”

Speaking ahead of her address, Ms Sturgeon said: “We know that a successful business sector is essential to our aspirations for our fairer, greener and more resilient country – and the Scottish Government will continue doing everything we can to support that sector.

“We will continue to call on the Treasury to provide more effective support during the current cost crisis, and we will get on with delivering our National Strategy for Economic Transformation.

“The Scottish Government remains committed to listening to and working with businesses and business organisations across the country.

“We value their expertise, and we understand how committed they are – not just to their own businesses, but to the communities that they are part of.”