THE chill in the air and the sprouting of sparkling lights in homes and across high streets means it’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas.

And while we embrace the sentiments of the season – peace and good will to all – it’s not the only prospect on the horizon this month.

There is also a chill being felt by businesses as the election looms.

Traditionally, the corporate focus this time of year is on making merry with family and friends, as well as with colleagues, clients and suppliers. Or, for retailers and those in the hospitality industry, making the most of their customers’ festive generosity.

But there is also the sense that even less effort is being made on making investment decisions.

This is a problem that has plagued the UK since the start of the Brexit process three years ago. And while the result of the general election should give us a better idea of what the future might hold – and thus start galvanising investment confidence – it is still far from certain if the result of the vote will herald a new start or just the end of the beginning of this era of uncertainty.

The recent releases of political parties’ manifestos have provided little assurance about what happens after votes have been cast.

The SNP called for significant shifts in devolved powers in exchange for their support of a minority Labour Government in Westminster.

On these, the Scottish Chambers of Commerce would expect to be fully involved in consultation in the case that Scottish Government increases its role in governing areas such as employment law and immigration powers. We have long argued for a UK wide system of immigration that reflects the needs of Scotland’s employers and our unique demographics, but we have significant concerns about the impact any cost increases will have on employers. We would also urge the Scottish Government ensure a full impact assessment on the extension of parental leave.

Meanwhile, following the release of various pledges outlined in the Conservative manifesto, we have remained consistent: we must avoid a messy and disorderly Brexit at all costs. So, while we welcome any claims of getting “Brexit sorted” it must be delivered in a way that ensures the least impact on businesses and that ensures access to EU and other markets quickly and efficiently.

The Conservatives would also do well to spell out long-overdue proposals for a UK Shared Prosperity Fund for consultation – with a commitment to maximum local autonomy, a strong voice for business and a focus on economic growth.

For all politicians, whatever their colour of riband, SCC has put a one-year moratorium on all policy measures that increase business costs - including no new business taxes or added regulatory burdens – on their Christmas wish list.

Further to this, businesses have made clear they want to be part of the solution to climate change and have much to gain from a transition to net-zero emissions. We believe any action needs to be taken in partnership with the Scottish business community to develop credible and detailed plans that don’t imperil investment and growth.

Against a backdrop of global economic change and Brexit uncertainty, the current picture is one of an economy in stasis. What will help deliver a merry Christmas and a happy new year for Scottish businesses is action that will stimulate the economy, increase business confidence and send a clear and positive signal that Scotland remains open for business.

Liz Cameron is the chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce