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Pre-Budget update on Government Economic Strategy

10 September 2012

Issued by the Scottish Government

Finance Secretary John Swinney will deliver a Budget that maximises opportunities for economic growth next week and this will include measures to increase support to Scotland's construction industry.

The Cabinet Secretary is seeking more opportunities for accelerating growth through the Budget - this coincides with the publication of a new report which demonstrates the range of activities across the six strands of the Government Economic Strategy (GES) which are helping the economic recovery and building the foundations for long-term sustainable economic growth.

The GES sets the direction for the public sector - Scottish Government, enterprise bodies, VisitScotland and other key agencies - to work collaboratively with the private, academic and third sectors to accelerate growth and create jobs.

A progress report published today demonstrates how action on areas such as capital investment, digital infrastructure, addressing youth unemployment, procurement, renewables and support for business is contributing to delivery of priorities to strengthen Scotland's recovery, drive sustainable growth and develop a more resilient and adaptable economy.

Publication of this update follows the Programme for Government (PfG) last week and comes ahead of a joint summit with the STUC on Women's employment, and the publication of a Budget to support economic recovery later this month.

Actions across Strategic Priorities include:

  • A further £105 million package of economic stimulus - announced in June 2012 - to create jobs and growth.
  • Our four new Enterprise Areas are open for business.
    Ensuring that our £9 billion public procurement spending does more to boost jobs and the Scottish economy.
  • Our £70 million National Renewables Infrastructure Fund is leveraging private sector investment to develop the necessary infrastructure to support offshore renewables.
  • The continuation of the Small Business Bonus Scheme, which has eliminated or substantially reduced business rates for two out of every five commercial properties in Scotland.
  • Creation of Opportunities for All, which ensures a guarantee of a place in education and training for all 16-19 year-olds, and an additional £30m investment in measures to address youth unemployment.

Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth John Swinney said:

"Accelerating sustainable economic growth, with opportunities for all people across Scotland to flourish, remains the focus of this Government and the work of our agencies. This progress report sets out how the Government Economic Strategy continues to drive action across the public sector to deliver this Purpose.

"The priorities and actions set out last September remain relevant and as I prepare our Budget for growth I am actively exploring what more this Government can do to boost jobs and growth in the construction industry.

"Next week's Budget will build on the foundations for long-term economic prosperity that we set out in 2007 and focuses our actions on six Strategic Priorities which will accelerate recovery, drive sustainable growth and develop a more resilient and adaptable economy.

"Retaining Scotland's position as the most supportive environment for business in the UK is essential in ensuring that our ambitious, innovative companies can thrive and capitalise on opportunities in new international growth markets.

"It is also important in retaining our strong track record for foreign direct investment - for the second consecutive year Scotland was the top performing location in the UK with almost 6,000 jobs created in 2011.

"Our actions to boost growth include a tax relief package worth over £500m this year and bringing forward a further £105 million package of economic stimulus.

"We are doing all we can within our current powers to strengthen the economy but there is no doubt that with the full fiscal and economic powers of independence, the Scottish Government could do even more to strengthen our economy. More and more successful business leaders and wealth creators recognise that through independence, we can best determine and create the best possible environment for economic success and deliver a more prosperous and fairer Scotland."

Chief Executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE)  Alex Paterson said:

"The Government Economic Strategy provides clear strategic direction to the enterprise agencies.

"Our focus on developing growth sectors and businesses over recent years has helped weather highly challenging economic conditions. In addition to well-established industries like tourism, and food and drink, the region's potential to create growth in energy, business services, creative industries and life sciences is particularly exciting at present.

"Looking ahead, among a series of ambitious investments, our planned rollout of next generation broadband will get under way in 2013, and ultimately benefit businesses and communities in every part of the region. We'll also be progressing regionally significant infrastructure projects, several in locations benefiting from Enterprise Area status, to create new opportunities across the Highlands and Islands.

"HIE welcomes this update and looks forward to continuing to play our part in delivering sustainable economic growth for Scotland."

Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise Lena Wilson said:

"A robust economic strategy that will see Scotland through the current economic storm is absolutely vital and along with our partners we have been working hard to focus on the areas that will support growth and pave the way for future economic prosperity. Over the past year, despite unprecedented trading conditions, many Scottish businesses have risen to the challenge and in fact the companies we work most closely with have reported a record combined turnover growth of £1.2billion and Scotland has again been recognised as the UK's leading location for job creation through foreign direct investment.

"We welcome this update on the Government's Economic Strategy as not only does it provide validation of the progress made in recent months but ensures we are focused on delivering maximum impact for Scotland's economy by focusing on the areas where we have a global competitive advantage and can make a real difference.

"We recognise there is much to do and a real challenge ahead with stubborn global economic conditions, however, by maintaining an unstinting focus on our long term ambitions as well as keeping a close eye on changeable market conditions, collectively we can continue to make steady progress under the Government's Economic Strategy."

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