THREE out of four people believe protecting jobs and well-being should be the top priority for businesses as the economy emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, a major new survey commissioned by Co-operative Development Scotland has found.

It comes as the CDS is launching a new campaign to showcase the role inclusive business models can play in supporting the Scottish Government with its aim to create a fairer, stronger and more democratic economy.

When asked what should be the top priority for businesses going forward, three out of four people said protecting jobs, 74 per cent, followed by staff well-being, 67%, and creating innovative solutions to problems, 53%.

The survey had over 1,230 respondents. CDS is the arm of Scotland’s enterprise agencies that supports company growth through employee ownership and co-operative business models.

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The research also found that half of Scots agree the pandemic has provided an opportunity to make Scotland’s economy stronger and fairer, with under 35-year-olds more likely to agree, 59%, while 64% said that the pandemic has already made their business more socially responsible.

Clare Alexander, head of CDS, said the crisis has prompted action by across sectors. “While discussions on the social aspects of the economy have become more vocal in recent years, Covid-19 has undoubtedly fuelled its relevance and urgency,” she said. “The world has been shaken, many of our norms have been questioned and as this survey shows, there is a desire not to return to life as before.”

The Crunchy Carrot, a community-run shop in Dunbar, East Lothian, went from supplying 60 vegetable boxes per week before the pandemic to 350 during the early stages of lockdown thanks to well-established local supply chains.

Business leaders have prioritised well-being, communities have responded to help and support each other and new and innovative ways of being economically viable have come to the fore, she said.

“There has also been a focus on a collective, rather than individual, call to action.”

The Scottish Government has also announced a drive looking for ideas to help inform the work of its Advisory Board on Social Renewal, tasked with building on positive policy and practice shifts seen during Covid-19.

Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, said: “Covid-19 has had a massive impact on the global economy and Scotland, like all countries, has been deeply affected. This forces us not just to respond in the immediate term, but also to make choices about the sort of economy we want to have and to focus our efforts on building back fairer and stronger.”