LEADING entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter is calling on Scotland’s new First Minister to reset the Scottish Government’s relationship with the business community, overhaul the nation’s tax system and deal with the current housing emergency as a priority.

Sir Tom, speaking on the Go Radio Business Show with Hunter & Haughey yesterday, said: “A new First Minister, in their first week in power, could really reset business relations – I think it would be good for our country. And number one on my list is housing."

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The businessman and philanthropist, who heads up The Hunter Foundation, said that if he was Scotland’s First Minister he would “get those who understand [housing] round the table and say ‘what can we do, what’s in our power, what’s devolved to Holyrood’ so that we can make it happen”.

Sir Tom added: “Because we’ve got a housing emergency – we’ve talked about it – and four local authorities, including the two big ones, Glasgow and Edinburgh, have declared a housing emergency. So, get round the table, don’t make it a talking shop, have an action plan with responsibility and timing, and announce it.”

He pointed out that experts such as his show co-host Lord Willie Haughey, a long-time proponent of building quality homes at affordable prices, could lend his expertise to the Scottish Government and get the housing crisis back on track.

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Sir Tom then called for the new First Minister to hold a round table with key figures from the hospitality industry and create parity on business rates with the rest of the UK by taking money from Scotland’s Barnett consequentials to restore a level playing field for businesses.

Currently, shops and hospitality businesses in Scotland are missing out on the temporary rates relief which is being made available to counterparts in England and Wales.

Next on Sir Tom’s wish list for the First Minister to deal with was income tax – with the businessman calling for a return to three bands of income tax system to make it the same as the three in England and Wales.

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“That is just the first week,” he said. “Then I would want to get good people sitting round the table who are saying ‘what are the longer-term goals, how can Scotland lead the world, and let’s get on with it’. I am fed up with talking shops, I am fed up with inaction. Let’s get on with it.”

However, Lord Haughey intervened to “burst your [Sir Tom’s] bubble”, saying: “Instead of that common-sense approach, you are going to get Glasgow introducing a 20mph speed limit on 3,800 roads. That is the poison installed by any collaboration with the Greens. First Minister Humza Yousaf is now down the road because of his abrupt drawing an end to the collaboration with the Greens.

“We’ve seen John Swinney throw his hat in the ring – he will be the only option. Humza Yousaf has lost his job because he did the right thing and because of that, I can guarantee that John Swinney is the candidate chosen by the SNP because he is the only person the Greens will work with.”

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Lord Haughey predicted that the “Greens will have more say now on policy than when they were in the pact [Bute House Agreement]”, adding: “Humza Yousaf’s career is in tatters for something he did for the Greens to end up in a stronger position.”

Alluding to reports that the “rank and file in the Greens are not happy with the leadership”, he said: “We need a strong Green Party but we need sensible people running it with sensible ideas.”