West Lothian self-employed support plea to potential local MSPs

More than 10,000 people work for themselves in West Lothian according to the latest official figures, almost as many as in Midlothian and East Lothian combined.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 6:00 am
Garry Clark, FSB’s development manager for the east of Scotland. Photo by Andrew Marshall

But the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is warning that the Covid crisis has hit the self-employed hard and that West Lothian MSPs returned at the election must work to protect this vital group.

With 10,200 people in West Lothian registered as self-employed, the county has the 12th most people working for themselves in Scotland.

FSB wants the next administration at Holyrood to pilot a new collective insurance approach for self-employed individuals who could not otherwise access sick pay.

They also want policymakers in Edinburgh to provide maternity, paternity and adoption payments to the self-employed via Social Security Scotland.

Whitburn business owner Jacqueline Dick has seen the damage caused by the Covid crisis and supports FSB’s policies.

She said: “My business has been closed for the best part of eight months as a result of Covid restrictions and, whilst I’m looking forward to reopening soon, the road to recovery will be tough.

“That’s why I’m looking for my MSPs to work hard for people like me. A new pilot scheme to help the small business owners collectively protect their interests sounds like a great place to start.”

The FSB also wants the next Scottish Government to deliver a Small Business Recovery Act, to ensure smaller firms win a fair share of public contracts.

Garry Clark, FSB’s development manager for the east of Scotland, said: “The events of the last year and a half have undermined the strength of self-employed people and the small business community in West Lothian.

"That’s a real concern, because it’ll be these same operators who will be vital to turning around local economies of places like Livingston and Linlithgow.

“No matter the colour of their rosette, we’re looking for candidates to pledge to help to get these local firms back on their feet.

"We need our next local representatives at Holyrood to do everything in their power to give our vital local businesses a fighting chance.”

Scotland-wide FSB research reveals that three fifths of business owners in Scotland say that the covid crisis has made self-employment less attractive. Around a third of small businesses were forced to close during the crisis, and thousands of Scottish firms have taken on billions of pounds of government-backed debt.