Business leaders in Scotland have welcomed government plans to introduce an ‘impact test’ for new regulations.

The Federation of Small Businesses welcomed the Scottish Government’s implementation plan for a ‘new deal’ for businesses, claiming it will help ‘reset’ relations.

The plan was published this week six months after collapse of the national bottle deposit return scheme – and the demise of Circularity Scotland, its administrator.

Firms hit out at the scheme’s governance, and the ensuing debacle undermined business confidence in Holyrood legislators.

Ministers have also been urged to pause new regulations requiring all short term let operators, including B&Bs, guest houses and those who let a room in their home, to obtain a license from their local authority.  

Government proposals published this week pledged to improve the consultation process for businesses – from small shops to multinationals – affected by incoming regulations.

The ‘New Deal for Business Group’ will be taken forward over the next 18 months to improve policy preparation and delivery and ‘build a wellbeing economy’, officials said.

Actions include a forum to oversee the impact of regulations on industry and a full review of how government policy is developed to ensure businesses are consulted at all stages – particularly when new regulation is a potential outcome. Work will also start immediately on helping more parents and carers to get back into work.

Other measures include:

  • keeping Non-Domestic Rates reforms under review to ensure they support businesses and communities
  • developing new ways to assess the impact of regulations on business
  • ensuring the right business voices are involved in policy development
  • seeking views on health and work, flexible working and just transition plans from across the business sector
  • outlining and measuring how business contributes to a wellbeing economy
  • assessing the type of support businesses are seeking to help government better understand their needs

Neil Gray, wellbeing economy secretary, said: “The New Deal for Business presents a new and exciting long-term commitment to partnership, to create the conditions where business feels empowered to invest, to innovate and to provide good jobs.

“By ensuring an open and honest dialogue between business and government we can provide certainty and consistency for business across Scotland, from small high street firms to the largest multinational companies.”

Dr Poonam Malik, head of investments at the University of Strathclyde, who co-chairs the group with Mr Gray, said: “Listening actively to business and working in meaningful partnership on common goals will reap rewards and grow our economy ambitiously for the benefit of all of Scotland.”

Colin Borland, Federation of Small Businesses’s director of devolved nations, who also sat on the group, said: “Having been part of the New Deal for Business Group since the outset, it’s great to see the issues we highlighted around the table beginning to translate into tangible actions.

“One thing that comes through very clearly from the plan is a commitment to understand and address the cumulative impact of government interventions. While new regulations can seem sensible or proportionate in isolation, businesses aren’t told to comply with them in isolation. We know that the overall regulatory burden, coupled with ongoing challenging trading conditions, is having a real impact on some of our smallest operators.”