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Businesses remain unconvinced on impact of Independence says Forum survey

Three quarters of Scottish small businesses would vote to remain part of the United Kingdom next year but 60% felt information was still lacking on the potential impact of independence in several key areas, according to the latest research from the national business group, the Forum of Private Business. 

The results come ahead the release of a White Paper on the Independence issue at the end of this month (28th November), and the release of the Scottish Government paper outlining how independence could boost the country's economy released this week. It suggests that the Scottish Government still has considerable ground to cover to convince firms of the benefits of an independent state.

Three quarters of Scottish small businesses would vote to remain part of the United Kingdom next year but 60% felt information was still lacking on the potential impact of independence in several key areas, according to the latest research from the national business group, the Forum of Private Business. The results come ahead the release of a White Paper on the Independence issue at the end of this month (28th November), and the release of the Scottish Government paper outlining how independence could boost the country's economy released this week. It suggests that the Scottish Government still has considerable ground to cover to convince firms of the benefits of an independent state.
 
With 300 days to the crucial vote, results of the Forum's poll of Scottish members showed that many firms felt they lacked basic information on the effect an independent Scotland would have in a number of areas crucial to the business community. Businesses were unanimous that both the Scottish and Westminster governments need to be clearer on how it may potentially affect trade with the rest of the UK and Europe.
 
The top concern was the lack of clear information on the potential impact on regulation and taxation (73%) followed by transport (70%) and national resources (70%). 
 
On the economic benefit of Scottish Independence, 49% of businesses questioned see it as a threat to the country's future economic growth, while only 17% see it as a potential opportunity. Businesses struggling with increased costs identified uncertainty as a significant problem when it comes to future business planning.
 
Commenting on the survey findings, Alexander Jackman, Head of Policy at the Forum of Private Business said: "Ahead of the launch of this week's paper on the economy and the White paper on independence,  it's that clear that businesses felt in the dark when it came to clear information on the benefits or otherwise of independence, and the information announced this week will be welcomed by the business community. No single issue managed to see a majority of businesses rate themselves as well-informed in the debate, showing just how confusing the current picture has been for business owners up until this point. Whether an independent Scotland is better for their business or not, it is up to individuals to decide but clearly Holyrood has its work cut out to convince business owners that a proposed independent Scotland can deliver a business climate that will ensure future growth and prosperity."
 
The survey also revealed that based on the current information available an overwhelming 73% of businesses believe that Scotland should remain part of the UK with only 15% intending to vote in favour of independence next year.
 
Mr Jackman continued, "The research indicates that many firms have made up their mind already, despite the lack of information up to now and a more positive view of the Scottish parliament compared to the parliaments in Westminster and Brussels. The next 300 days will see some intensive campaigning from both camps, but amidst the hailstorm of statistics what businesses will welcome some clarity over the positives and negatives of remaining part of the UK."
 
In a further blow to the Referendum campaigns, 1 in 2 business owners said the divisive nature of the debate was damaging to their business.

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