Merchants have nothing to fear from an independent Scotland, the Scottish National Party (SNP) has said.

This was one of the messages gleaned from the Builders Merchants Federation’s (BMF) meeting with the SNP government last month. BMF’s managing director John Newcomb, regional manager Graham Bolton and policy manager Brett Amphlett heard direct from Margaret Burgess MSP, Minister for Housing & Welfare, who explained the Scottish government’s current objectives.

In its recently debated legislative programme, SNP Ministers pledged to deliver 30,000 affordable homes over the lifetime of this Parliament, of which two thirds would be for social rent.

The Scottish government also wants to:

  • Bolster the Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS) – Ms Burgess allocated a further £9m for HEEPS to the £46m already distributed to each local authority
  • Introduce a new energy efficiency standard for social housing with an expectation that landlords will meet this standard by 2020.

“I was pleased to meet the representatives of the Builders Merchants Federation and hear about the services they provide to their members,” said Ms Burgess. “It was also useful to discuss aspects of the Scottish government’s housing programme, including our pledge to deliver more affordable homes during this Parliament, and our measures to boost home energy efficiency.

"I also welcomed the opportunity to explain how Scottish independence will provide further impetus to the construction sector in Scotland with the consequence of more work for BMF members.”

Mr Newcomb said: “I was pleased to talk through some of the issues faced by merchants with Margaret. We came to gain insight into SNP thinking and brief her on our industry’s outlook. It was time well spent.”

He was able to update the Minister with the latest news from merchants, having canvassed Scottish Region members. He also explained how the BMF’s new Trade Credit Scheme will work in helping merchant customers obtain access to finance via non-bank lending.

During the week, BMF representatives also attended the SNP Party Conference to meet MPs and MSPs before going on to Inverness-shire and Aberdeenshire to visit Federation members.

Mr Newcomb concluded: “This Scottish trip was designed to combine two parallel goals. Firstly, I was able to explain to SNP representatives who and what BMF members are – and their role in creating and capturing local economic growth. Secondly, Graham and I can pass on the Housing Minister’s outlook to long-standing and new BMF members alike.”