Nicola Sturgeon 2
Image: Scottish National Party (SNP)

Scotland can’t succeed without small businesses, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will tell the Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) National Conference in Glasgow on Friday.

Days after George Osborne delivers his UK Budget, the First Minister will address more than 1,200 small business owners at the business campaign group’s largest-ever event, being held at the city’s SECC.

Ahead of the event, Ms Sturgeon said: “The Scottish Government is committed to supporting our small businesses as their success is so integral to the success of the economy.

“The Scottish Government will continue to champion small businesses and their capacity for sustainable and inclusive growth.  Since we introduced the Small Business Bonus Scheme in 2008, the amount of money being saved by businesses every year has more than doubled. This means that almost 100,000 business premises in Scotland now pay zero or reduced rates under this scheme alone.

“Small businesses are the beating heart of our communities and a driving force in our economy and I look forward to addressing the Federation of Small Businesses and continuing our work together to maintain Scotland’s reputation as an excellent place to do business.”

Andy Willcox, the FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “The First Minister is the most influential Scottish politician of her generation and we’re thrilled that she recognises the importance of small firms to our collective success.  Delegates from across the UK will be keen to hear how her government plans to make Scotland the best place to do business.”

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP will also speak to the assembled audience. The chief executive of the telecoms regulator Ofcom, Sharon White, will outline its intentions to improve quality of service across the telecoms industry.

Addressing Scotland’s patchy mobile coverage and delivering universal superfast broadband is a key plank of FSB’s 2016 Scottish Parliament manifesto. FSB is also arguing for the next Scottish Government to make public contracts easier to access for the smallest firms, for reform of the Scottish business rates system and an approach which excludes low risk small firms from burdensome regulation.

The manifesto also calls for a refreshed economic strategy that recognises the contribution which small firms make to the economy and the resilience of communities, as well as a dedicated, cabinet-level business minister. FSB is also calling for the next administration to make Scotland a world-leader in digital government.