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Tax breaks 'vital' for business partnerships

COMPANIES should receive tax relief to help promote education-business partnerships. The call comes in a letter to Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, from the Scottish Council Development and Industry.

Alan Wilson, the council's chief executive, says that following talks with representatives from education and industry several areas of cost have been identified that should be set against liability for company tax.

They include cases where business has given financial support to schools whose budgets cannot provide cover for teachers on industrial placements.

Mr Wilson, who has also sent his appeal to Henry McLeish, Scottish minister for enterprise and lifelong learning, says that there are cost implications when a company sends its employees to a local primary or secondary. There are also costs in providing work-experience programmes for pupils and teachers, including cover for mentoring by employees taken off their normal jobs.

Mr Wilson told The TES Scotland: "Some form of tax incentive is vital as an aid to business, particularly small and medium-sized businesses. We see this as a low-cost, high-return scheme, and we hope the Chancellor takes our suggestion on board for the Budget."

The SCDI, having identified skill shortages in manufacturing, is also anxious for a tax incentive to encourage placements by undergraduates. Some engineering graduates have no hands-on experience and are not not productive for up to two years. Some engineering faculties cannot find work-experience placements.

Some small and medium-sized enterprises also cannot undertake research and development or cannot take a teacher or student on placement because of the cost.

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