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Scottish firms remain uncertain on independence says Forum survey

With less than a month to go to the crucial referendum on independence, over two thirds of Scottish small businesses would vote to remain part of the United Kingdom, according to the latest research by national business organisation, the Forum of Private Business. 

A poll of its Scottish members reveals that the majority of firms also feel they are still in the dark about implications for crucial areas such as currency and taxation. This is despite the release of the Business White Paper at the end of last year, and all camps ramping up their campaign efforts in the run up to the vote on 18th of next month.

Top concerns were the lack of clear information on the potential impact on taxation and regulation (73%), closely followed by currency (72%) transport (70%) and national resources (70%).

On the question of the benefits of Scottish independence, 53% of firms polled see it as a threat to Scotland’s economic growth, despite a slight increase in those seeing it as an opportunity (21% – up by 4% from 2013). While a surprising 26% remain uncertain as to what a Yes or No vote would mean for their business.

Commenting on the survey findings, Phil Orford MBE, chief executive at the Forum of Private Business, said: “While debate may be hotting up between the Yes and No camps as the countdown to the crucial vote gets ever closer, there is still a lot of uncertainty out there. Many small firms still feel they are no clearer on how a vote either way would affect Scotland’s economy. At a time of improving growth the last thing business owners need is uncertainty about future economic prospects. This will only stifle consumer spending and business investment.

As to voting intentions, the survey also revealed that despite further detail from both sides of the campaign and despite a 4% fall, 68% of businesses still believe that Scotland should remain part of the UK. Only 20% of business owners surveyed intend to vote in favour of independence next month.

Mr Orford continued: “The research indicates that despite efforts from both sides to clarify the impact of independence, this has failed to convince a large part of the business community to change their minds as to their voting intentions since our last poll in October 2013.” 

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