John Swinney is not known as a man easily daunted by the scale of the task in front of him. Which is just as well, when you consider the scope of his new brief as Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery.

It’s hard to think of any aspect of our communities, families, mental and physical health and, of course, economy that hasn’t suffered at the hands of the pandemic and the efforts to control it.

His challenge is to prevent this long-term damage becoming permanent.

Creating what looks to be a super-ministry with the clout to ensure “cross government coordination of Covid recovery policies” certainly gives Mr Swinney a fighting chance. It allows him to leave his ministerial colleagues in no doubt that, although he might have it in his job title, they are all Ministers for Covid Recovery. Whether they’re in charge of planning, or public health, or procurement, Ministers don’t just need to make Covid their top priority. Their departmental plan must dovetail with those of their colleagues.

The first thing in the Cabinet Secretary’s in-tray will be sorting out the communications and decision-making around whether or not to lift trading restrictions in areas where infection numbers are a bit higher. The last-minute announcement two Fridays ago that that Glasgow wouldn’t be moving to Level 2 on the Monday, for example, was the latest in a line of miscommunications around unlocking that have had serious consequences. Again, we saw stock purchased and staff rotas drawn up in anticipation of an easing of restrictions that didn’t materialise. So, the perishable stock rots and the staff are stood down, while the business gets further into debt and further away from re-opening.

This time, though, we have the added complication that some employers, whose furloughed staff moved on to other jobs, have, in readiness for re-opening, hired new staff who they cannot now furlough. This leaves them in the invidious position of either having to let newly-hired employees go, or find a way to pay their salary while little or no money is coming in.

Indeed, the intense speculation that preceded last Friday’s news that Glasgow is to stay in Level 3 for some time longer, while East Renfrewshire stays in Level 2, highlights how difficult it has become for businesses to plan ahead.

Crucial as it is, however, success here is about more than lining up departmental Covid recovery plans.

If we’re really going to turn this crisis round, we need every action or policy proposed by any part of government to have a good answer to the question: How will this help our country bounce back?

Covid recovery cannot happen without economic recovery. How will your mental health get better if you can’t get a job? How will those children in most need, who have fallen the furthest behind, catch up if insufficient economic activity means we lack public funds?

And economic recovery can’t happen without small businesses getting back on their feet. Small businesses are rooted in their communities and account for around a million Scottish jobs. After the financial crash of 2008, nine in ten unemployed people who re-joined the workforce did so by joining a small business or setting one up.So, everything that comes out of government – no matter how far down the corridor from the economy department – should be seen through that prism. Does it make life it easier or more difficult for local, small businesses to resume trading, get hiring and generate revenues?

The current crisis makes the need to co-ordinate and test policies’ impacts more urgent. But there’s no real reason, when we move past the emergency and onto rebuilding, why this sort of working can’t become the norm in government.

Colin Borland is director of Devolved Nations for the Federation of Small Businesses