Business Gateway scheme criticised by MSPs

Gordon Lindhurst MSP
Gordon Lindhurst MSP

A scheme designed to help businesses develop and grow has been criticised by MSPs over its “lack of accountability and transparency”.

The Businesses Gateway scheme was created by the Scottish Government who transferred control of the service to local authorities in 2008.

It was intended to provide free business support to small and medium-sized Scottish firms, including help with start ups, growth and local services.

However, Holyrood’s Economy Committee has now expressed concern about the support it provides, following an inquiry into the scheme.

The committee of MSPs said they were particularly concerned about the lack of accountability for the project and that there was very-little transparency around Business Gateway budgets and performance.

Gordon Lindhurst, convener of the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee said: “There is a lack of alignment, transparency and accountability in Business Gateway, and we found it unacceptable that local authorities do not consistently record and publish targets or financial information.

“It was essential for the committee to hear directly from businesses about their experiences with business support.

“There is much to be commended, but opportunities have been missed to align local and national economic priorities and to make it easier for businesses to be able to access services.”

The inquiry examined support for business available in other countries and the committee said they were impressed by the services in Ireland, which “provide a mix of tailored local delivery and national strategic direction”.

The committee has now asked the Scottish Government to review the Irish model and consider whether it could be applied to Scotland to help with “accountability challenges”.

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