The SNP is to slash the budget for its flagship ‘Business Pledge’ by nearly 50 per cent this year.

Ministers have been forced into a review of the scheme under pressure from Scottish Labour, but the funding cut is set to hinder attempts to drive up signatories.

There is also no target to increase the number of the government’s own suppliers that have signed the pledge.

The scheme, which was launched by Nicola Sturgeon in 2015, requires private sector firms to pay the Living Wage, avoid using exploitative zero hours contracts and make progress on diversity and gender balance.

Firms that sign up to the pledge are also required to commit to prompt payment and play an active role in the community, with the aim of boosting productivity and competitiveness for Scotland’s economy.

Parliamentary Questions show that overall costs for 2017-18 are £24,115, but this is set to fall to just £13,000 in 2018-19.

It recently emerged that just 15 per cent of Scottish Government suppliers are signatories of the pledge.

Scottish Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale, who sits on Holyrood’s economy committee, said:

“Labour has repeatedly warned that this SNP scheme cannot just be a publicity stunt and while the government’s announcement of a review is welcome, these figures suggest the government is not committed to significantly driving up the number of signatories.
“The huge cut in spending shows that the SNP is still not serious about encouraging companies to live up to the laudable aims of the pledge.
“The fact that there is no target to increase take-up among the government’s own suppliers demonstrates a failure to lead by example.
“We should be using the buying power of the Government as we grow our economy to ensure workers are paid a fair wage and are not exploited by employers. While the Tories and SNP stand back and allow insecure work to spread, Labour would act to guarantee good jobs and strong businesses.”

NOTES 

1) Question S5W-14644: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 15/02/2018

To ask the Scottish Government what the communications and marketing budget for promoting the Scottish Business Pledge has been in each of the last three years.
Answered by Keith Brown (07/03/2018):
The Scottish Business Pledge overall costs arranged by financial year are:
2015-16 – £44,518 including £36,000 to set up the website as a marketing tool.
2016-17 – £9,075
2017-18 – £24,115

2) Question S5W-14645: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 15/02/2018

To ask the Scottish Government what the communications and marketing budget for promoting the Scottish Business Pledge is in its Draft Budget for 2018-19.
Answered by Keith Brown (07/03/2018):
The Scottish Government currently expects Business Pledge spend to be around £13,000 in the next financial year.

3) Question S5W-14642: Kezia Dugdale, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 15/02/2018

To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S5W-13901 by Keith Brown on 31 January 2018, what target has been set to increase the number of its suppliers that have signed the Business Pledge.
Answered by Keith Brown (14/03/2018):
The Scottish Business Pledge is a voluntary commitment by business. There is no such target.

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