By Claire West

The Forum of Private Business today launches a campaign exclusively for Scottish firms: Get Scotland Trading.

The campaign is aimed at transforming the fortunes of smaller businesses on issues specific to Scotland, and what the Scottish government can do to help.

It builds on the wider Get Britain Trading campaign which has focused on the work of decision-makers in Westminster. Get Scotland Trading specifically aims to raise awareness of the huge contribution small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make to the Scottish economy.

It also aims to make that contribution even bigger — and help push forward economic recovery — by vastly improving the conditions smaller businesses are forced to operate under.

In order for the campaign to work, the Forum is calling on as many SMEs as possible to get behind it by visiting www.getscotlandtrading.co.uk.

The Forum's Chief Executive, Phil Orford, said: "Scotland has its own parliament and its own unique issues and opportunities. At a macro level we can do much more to help make things better for Scotland’s small businesses by customising this campaign to make it more effective and more relevant for them.

"Promoting the success of Scottish businesses despite the tough conditions is going to be an important part of this campaign. There are small firms in Scotland that are thriving and we want to shout about it.

"We will also continue to lobby and work with the Scottish Government to improve conditions for small firms. Primarily we would like to see the introduction of a small business fuel allowance to help Scottish firms that are affected more than most by high fuel prices.

“We know high fuel costs are a major barrier to firms in the more remote parts of Scotland — the cost of distribution has been identified in our own research as a major disadvantage to firms here.

“We will also be pushing for a reduction of business-hindering red tape, that includes a reduction in the cost of planning applications, and for local councils to embrace the better regulation agenda,” he said.

GST also calls for number of changes to be made in order to allow smaller firms in Scotland to thrive, which in turn will boost employment and prosperity at a time of widespread economic uncertainty.

These includes a more efficient public sector procurement process, with local councils making it easier for small firms to compete for business. Improvement to infrastructure and investment in rural businesses are also on the GST agenda. Crucially, the Forum's campaign will encourage more positive promotion of Scotland and Scottish goods.

Added Mr Orford: “More needs to be done to promote brand Scotland. If Scottish businesses are to boost economic growth there must be a greater push on exports, particularly to new and emerging markets. With the popularity of the Scottish food and drinks industry there is huge scope for small firms to grow in this sector.

"But in order for Get Scotland Trading to be a success, we need as many firms as possible to visit www.getscotlandtrading.co.uk and to join the campaign.”