Family businesses need policy support to fulfil vital role in Scotland’s post-COVID recovery

By Press Office

Policy support and education will be essential to help Scotland’s family businesses navigate the rapidly changing business environment and maximise their contribution to Scotland’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery, according to the latest research by Queen Margaret University. In particular, greater recognition of the role families play in supporting businesses and support for individuals who are balancing the competing priorities of family and business are key to both business survival and growth.

Around 65% of all private businesses in the UK are family controlled. Today (February 3, 2021) is Scottish Family Business Day, when family firms will join sector organisation Scottish Family Business United in a campaign to celebrate their contribution to the Scottish economy. The Top 100 Scottish family businesses generate £20 billion turnover, £1 billion in profit before tax and employ over 112,000 people annually.

The research from Queen Margaret University Business School highlights not only the economic importance of family businesses but also their role within communities and Scotland’s recovery post-COVID-19. Importantly, there is evidence of families contributing resources to keep businesses afloat during the current turmoil, sometimes in the form of money but often contributing their expertise or time. Family businesses include some of the biggest businesses in Scotland, but also many smaller businesses. Rural economies are often especially dependent on family run firms.

Professor Claire Seaman, Chair of Enterprise and Family Business at Queen Margaret University, said:

“Our newest research looks at family businesses across Europe and shows the extent to which their activities are shaped by local institutions such as universities and policy. If family businesses are to thrive and play their full part in the post-COVID-19 economy, policy support and education are essential to help them navigate both a rapidly changing business environment and the challenges that can crop up when a family and a business co-exist. By putting our research into practice with Family Business United Scotland to create an education pathway for family business, we can help generate real change for the businesses that are at the core of our economy and communities. Scottish Family Business Day is a flagship of our work in this area and we are delighted to partner with Family Business United in their excellent work.”

Paul Andrews, Founder of Family Business United, said: “The contribution made by the family business sector in Scotland deserves to be recognised and the aim of Scottish Family Business Day is to champion the sector, put family firms on the map and in light of the year we have all just been through, provide a sense of community, shared purpose and positivity for the future. Undoubtedly, as the nation starts to recover from the effects of the pandemic, family firms will have a vital role to play and be integral to the recovery across Scotland.”

“We are looking to the future and Scottish Family Business Day 2021 will be a chance to focus on the future, the next stages in the economic recovery after the pandemic, and an opportunity to celebrate and recognise the contribution family businesses have made over the past year, their resilience in adapting to everything that has been, and continues to be thrown at them, and to be optimistic about the future of the sector too. Family firms are the backbone of the Scottish economy and will remain so for generations to come.”

Newly published UK Government statistics (Business Statistics briefing paper 06152, 22 January 2021) reveal there has been an 11% increase in the number of businesses in Scotland between 2019 and 2020. In 2020 there were 6.0 million private sector businesses in the UK, and 6.0 million SMEs, which was over 99% of all businesses.


You can read more about this latest research from Queen Margaret Business School on eResearch, the University's research repository.  

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