SCOTTISH Enterprise has hit back after screen industry figures accused it of failing to understand their sector and questioned the agency’s interest in helping it develop.

Performers’ union Equity said it had “serious reservations” about the economic development body’s abilities, and even questioned its continuing role in supporting the sector.

Equity indicated it had lost confidence in Scottish Enterprise over the “debacle” involving building a new studio facility in Scotland and said the agency had given “the impression of a body that thinks it is above Parliament”.

At the same time Glasgow-based company Caledonia TV said there was a “general sense that Scottish Enterprise do not understand our industry and how we operate”.

The TV company said the agency was prioritising companies from London setting up Scottish bases, rather than investing in indigenous firms.

Responsibility for supporting the screen sector is currently shared between Scottish Enterprise and arts organisation Creative Scotland.

A dedicated Scottish Screen Unit is to be set up by next year within Creative Scotland, with input from Scottish Enterprise and other agencies.

The criticism of Scottish Enterprise’s role emerged in written submissions to the Holyrood Culture Committee’s inquiry into how to boost screen industries.

Equity says Creative Scotland is making progress but added: “We have serious reservations about Scottish Enterprise’s interest or ability regarding the screen sector.”

Asked whether support provided by Scottish Enterprise was adequate, the submission adds: “No, especially on the studio debacle. Equity would recommend reallocating Scottish Enterprise resources to Creative Scotland.

“Scottish Enterprise’s submission and presentations to various parliamentary committees on the subject of the screen sector give the impression of a body that thinks it is above Parliament.”

Caledonia TV’s submission states: “There is a general sense that Scottish Enterprise (SE) do not understand our industry and how we operate.

“Basic business training flip charts – which we do not need, having survived for 25 years – and consultants, who know much less about our business than we do, are not the answer.”

Its adds the agency is failing to provide business development support to smaller firms, with Caledonia TV told that it cannot be account managed by it because its turnover is too low.

“There appears to be a trend in Scottish Enterprise to regard companies close to or above the £10 million turnover level as the favoured area for investment,” it states.

“We would argue that growing companies of our scale – with 25 years of experience and job creation – is also important.”

It continues: “Scottish Enterprise has a tendency to prioritise large companies from London setting up Scottish bases for ‘inward investment’ funds.”

David Smith, sector director at Scottish Enterprise, hit back, saying: “Our remit is to support companies with high growth ambitions to ensure Scotland develops the companies of scale we need to generate economic growth.

“Research shows particularly significant economic impact when companies grow their turnover above £10m so we work with companies of all sizes and turnover who can demonstrate the ambition and capability to scale up to this size.”

He added: “We work alongside our partners, particularly Creative Scotland as the lead screen agency in Scotland, and we’ve been working closely with them to finalise plans for the new screen unit.”