Businesses do not feel the Scottish Government is listening to them, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said.
Calling for greater clarity around why certain measures are in place and the support available to business at First Minister’s Questions, Sarwar said firms and individuals have spent 15 months trying to work out how they can continue trading.
He also urged the Scottish Government to employ a “can do” attitude, which he said would entail “speaking to individual businesses”.
“Behind every business, there are people just trying to get by,” Sarwar said.
“The First Minister can say she’s listening, but the businesses don’t believe she’s listening – they think she’s telling them what they need to do rather than actually engaging with them.
“She gave the example of the Scottish Wedding Industry Alliance, they themselves said that the decisions don’t go far enough and the Government are still not communicating effectively with them.
“This is about more than financial support – these are businesses and individuals that have spent 15 months figuring out how to operate safely.
“It’s different if it’s just one sector – it’s more than just one sector – sector after sector are now speaking out publicly about the Government’s poor communication and inconsistent decision-making.”
Sarwar called on the Scottish Government to “get round the table” with businesses.
Responding, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “John Swinney was round the table with these stakeholders this morning – we do that regularly and will continue to do that.
“I readily concede that there will be many things that business ask us to do that we consider and can’t do.
“The reason for that is not because we’re not listening.
“The reason for that is down to the one thing, no matter how much I wish I could, I cannot do and that is simply magic away this virus – if I could do that I would do it in an instant.
“We have to take careful decisions.”
She added: “My heart breaks for every business, every individual, every sector of our society that is still suffering from Covid – but I don’t do my job properly by rushing decisions that will make the situations worse.
“I do my job properly, no matter how difficult these decisions are, by trying to get us safely to that end point and that’s what I’m going to dedicate every day to doing until we’re at it.”