Scottish Independence Poll: Majority of Businesses Think Whitehall's Assessment is Fairer than SNPs
Scottish Independence Poll: Majority of Businesses Think Whitehall's Assessment is Fairer than SNPsReuters

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce has revealed that 77% of businesses have identified potential risks to the country's economy, in the event that voters choose to end the 307-union with England.

According to the group's a survey of Scottish business opinion, on the issues surrounding the Scottish independence referendum on 18 September this year, 56% also say that the quality of the referendum debates are poor or worse than expected [Figure 1].

"It is clear that businesses are distinctly unimpressed with the quality of the referendum debates so far, with 56% rating them as poor or worse. The various political analyses do not seem to be hitting the mark as far as business is concerned," said Liz Cameron, chief executive of the SCC.

Scottish independence
Figure 1SCC

"There is a clear message that with just four months left before voters go to the polls, politicians and the campaigning groups need to considerably step up their game. We urge the campaigns to rethink their engagement strategy and come forward with direct answers. We challenge each political party to detail which powers it would bring to Scotland, when, and how it would use these to Scotland's economic benefit.

"This is a pivotal time for Scotland's economic and social future. We are beginning to experience an upward trend in our economy, but business deserves better and all politicians should approach this debate with mutual respect and not petty point scoring."

On top of that, only 27% of businesses thought the Scottish National Party's (SNP) assessment on the impact of independence was good or very good, while 30% said it was fair [Figure 2].

Scottish independence
Figure 2SCC

However, 42% of businesses touted the UK government's assessment as fair, while 18% thought it was good and 5% thought it was very good [Figure 3].

Scottish people will vote in an independence referendum on 18 September this year and will be asked the straight "yes/no" question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

The referendum period starts on 30 May.

The SCC report is the umbrella organisation for the 26 local Chambers of Commerce which represents more than 50% of private sector jobs in Scotland.

The survey resulted in 759 completed questionnaires that were conducted between 24 March and 11 April this year.

"There are lessons here for both sides of the referendum debate. Politicians often characterise the decision we will make in stark terms and the reality is that many people in the business world cannot relate to this," said Cameron.

Scottish independence
Figure 3SCC

"We must also take into consideration that views vary depending on where companies are trading, the size of the company and the sectors that businesses are operating in. Businesses of whatever size and nature expect to be engaged in a meaningful discussion that relates to the cost of doing business in the future – we need clarity around specific issues.

"It is clear that businesses are actively preparing for the potential outcomes of the referendum, with almost a quarter of businesses having already changed business decisions as a result of the referendum and almost half saying that their business strategy would change if Scotland became independent. There is however a desire for more decisions to be taken by Scots in Scotland, whether or not Scotland becomes independent, with 22% of businesses identifying more Scottish appropriate policies coming from a Scottish Government as the main business opportunity of independence, whilst 68% would welcome more powers for the Scottish Parliament in the event of a 'no' vote."