A SCOTTISH Government meeting attempting to deepen links with Scotland’s private sector has been labelled “a positive start”.

Co-chaired by Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray and Dr Poonam Malik, the first meeting of the New Deal for Business Group took place in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

It saw business leaders and organisations, Cosla and the Scottish Government lay the foundations for how they will work together.

First Minister Humza Yousaf has previously been vocal about his commitment to reset his government's relationship with business.

One of the key aims of this new group is to involve businesses at an early stage of policy development to deepen links with the private sector and deliver a fairer, greener wellbeing economy.

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Gray said: “Businesses have been telling us what is important to them and by coming together and listening we can work to achieve common goals and align Scottish Government policy with what the private sector needs.

“I was delighted to see the strong enthusiasm, energy and commitment at this first meeting to ensure we deliver on the aims of the New Deal. This includes providing an interim report to the First Minister by the end of June.

“Today we established who would lead on the subgroups working to improve the development and implementation of regulation, to enhance the Non-Domestic Rates system, to look at business contribution to a wellbeing economy and to use shared data to respond to emerging opportunities and changes in the business climate.

"The parameters and priorities which will drive forward the key areas of the New Deal - enhanced partnership working; a shared awareness of economic conditions and performance; ensuring the best environment to do business; and a transition to a wellbeing economy - have been agreed by all."

Commenting on the meeting, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Dr Liz Cameron said: “Today’s discussion was a positive start to designing and developing a new way of working between business and the Scottish Government.

“The group met today against an economic backdrop of growing costs and squeezed profitability.

“That is why we need to be clear, there is still much more to be done to iron out the details and we have stressed that the ‘New Deal’ cannot be more of the same that we have come to expect from the Government.

“We need action and urgency now to grow the economy by correcting policies that limit growth and investment, to truly make the most of Scotland’s potential.

“The final deal, once agreed, will be tested, and deemed successful if we see a positive shift in business confidence, profits, and investment.

“The expectations are high for both sides and it is crucial business and government work together to deliver for Scotland’s economy. We stand ready with our colleagues in the business community to work collaboratively with the Scottish Government to find the best deal for Scottish business.”