The Scottish Government is committed to unlocking private sector investment for businesses through a variety of mechanisms. The Scottish growth scheme uses public sector investment to lever the private sector and aims to unlock up to £500 million of investment for Scottish small and medium-sized enterprises. To 30 September 2019, some £160 million had been invested under the Scottish growth scheme, which has supported 262 businesses. That has been enabled through investments totalling £24.1 million from Scottish Enterprise and £3.5 million from the Scottish Government.
The current uncertainty in the economy has likely had an impact on demand for funding, with recent research indicating that firms are putting off investment as they await the outcome of Brexit.
Nicola Sturgeon stood in this very chamber and said that she would deliver a £500 million vote of confidence in Scottish businesses. As we have just heard, the truth is very different. Why should anyone believe a word that this SNP Government says when it said that it would deliver £500 million but did not mean anything close to that?
I think that Annie Wells—this is surprising for a Conservative member—fails to understand what this is all about. It is about the Scottish Government using its economic power to unlock private sector investment by looking for barriers that exist in the system and supporting the removal of those blockages to unlock that private sector investment into Scottish SMEs.
It is about lubricating the wheels to make the private sector do what it should and can do to support Scottish businesses.
The £500 million to be put into businesses to which the member refers is not Government money; it includes unlocking all the private sector investment to enable that investment to go into SMEs in order to support them to grow and develop in the current situation. The current uncertainty in the economy is what is causing the lack of demand for businesses. That investment is there, and businesses that want to come forward and take advantage of the funding are very welcome to do so.
If the member is aware of any businesses that would like to do that, I ask her to encourage them to come forward. The blockage is the result not of a lack of Government support to lubricate the private sector and unlock private sector investment, but of a lack of businesses coming forward to take advantage of the offer from the Scottish Government that is on the table.