Scots business leaders give views on Covid and Brexit at IoD Scotland conference

Almost seven in ten Scottish businesses plan to review their property requirements in light of the Covid pandemic and surge in home working.

Aidan O’Carroll, chair of IoD Scotland, which was staging its annual conference.
Aidan O’Carroll, chair of IoD Scotland, which was staging its annual conference.

Meanwhile, two-fifths of business leaders believe that lockdowns are the best way to deal with the current health crisis.

The two conclusions have emerged after a series of questions were posed to delegates at the annual Scottish Institute of Directors (IoD) conference, being staged virtually in light of the coronavirus crisis.

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When asked if their business planned to review its property requirements in light of the pandemic and the increase in remote working, 67.6 per cent replied yes, while 32.4 per cent said no.

Asked “Do you believe that lockdowns are the best way to deal with the current health crisis?”, 58 per cent said no and 42 per cent said yes.

The two questions were posed by The Scotsman while leaders were also asked how prepared their business was for Brexit. Not prepared at all gained a 7.6 per cent response, somewhat prepared 62.1 per cent, with 30.3 per cent answering very prepared.

They were then asked: “What kind of support would you benefit most from in preparing for Brexit?” Clearer guidance from government gained a 39.1 per cent response, financial support packages 21.9 per cent, advice and guidance around continued employment of EU citizens 10.9 per cent, while a clear outline on how supply chains will operate post Brexit garnered 28.1 per cent.

Aidan O’Carroll, chair of IoD Scotland, said: “With 56 days to go until Brexit, these results show that while businesses are relatively prepared, there is still a way to go.

“With two-thirds of participants seeking clearer guidance both generally and specifically around supply chains in a post-Brexit world, the IoD will continue to advocate for this clarity for our members at the highest level.”

On Covid, business leaders were also asked: “What measures do you think are appropriate to minimise infection transmission across local authorities of differing tiers?”

Make it illegal to travel, except for clearly articulated exceptions gained 26.2 per cent of the votes, advise against any travel out with the boundaries 34.4 per cent, and accept the risk of potential imported infections and keep the economies operating as normally as possible 39.4 per cent.

O’Carroll said: “With regards to Covid travel restrictions, much like we’ve seen with many issues in relation to the pandemic, there is a very clear divide across the extremes and the middle ground when it comes to opinion on the best course of action.

“As the new strategic framework embeds, while we recognise that there may yet be more severe restrictions applied nationally in Scotland if numbers go the wrong way, it will be important to support the tiering system so that as much of the economy can remain open as is practicably possible.

“To keep the economy and business open we must all do our best to strike the right balance between protecting health as well as protecting jobs and our business base. It will be critical to ensure the financial safety net is made available to all viable businesses effected.”

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