COMMENTING on the Draft Scottish Budget, Ross Martin, chief executive of SCDI, said: “It is encouraging to see many of the themes from our SCDI Blueprint* for Scotland’s economy – ‘From Fragile to Agile’ (please see report link at foot) featuring in the Draft Scottish Budget, with an appropriately strong emphasis on productivity, addressing frailties in the systems of childcare, education and transport.
“Of course, if these changes are to be made against a strong backdrop of evidence, then we must begin to see far greater quality in Scottish level economic data, to help inform regional economic growth strategies.
“The establishment of a Scottish Productivity Commission would enable a robust, independent research and analysis, advice and performance monitoring to government and all sectors.
“Although the productive and transformative power of innovation is also now being recognised, the need for a step-change in our performance internationally was given little mention this time around.
“The establishment of innovation and tech hubs in all of Scotland’s cities and towns would quickly create the context for innovation to flourish, bringing together creative minds with a relentless focus on growth.
“The increase in the large business supplement will affect many of the businesses which are most productive, invest most in research and development and contribute most to the value of Scottish exports.
“We will need to consider carefully the impact of this tax increase on investment and growth in Scotland, and whether the Scottish Government’s choices will stimulate more businesses to be innovative and internationally active.
“However, it was heartening to also see mention of some of the key characteristics of the emerging economy being promoted, such as the support for circular economy initiatives – for example, the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund – the support for skills development and the drive towards decentralisation.
“On digital, the Draft Budget proposals are welcome, if a little too timid, given the scale of the issue and the pace of change in the operating context. The creation of a chief digital officer would enable a new focus to be brought to this most pressing of problems, which is also one of our greatest opportunities.
“The commitment to create additional quality accommodation, including affordable housing, is welcome, as is the continued investment in key infrastructure including roads, rail, ferry services and air connectivity.
“There is substantial long-term investment in Scotland, however there is a perception that the networks are falling further behind internationally, risking loss of economic competitiveness. Scotland is trying to play catch-up – for instance with the major investment planned for the North East – but there is a need for infrastructure developments to become transformational.
“With the growing importance of city regions to the economy, intercity and intra-city connectivity, including active travel, can support higher productivity and innovation.”
Notes to editors:
SCDI Blueprint ‘From Fragile to Agile’ Report, which was published on 7 Dec. 2015, can be read here:
* In ‘From Fragile to Agile: A Blueprint for Growth & Prosperity’, SCDI’s 2015 policy Blueprint, SCDI makes recommendations on how Scotland can become a high-performance, agile economy. The report focuses on the areas of underperformance in the Scottish economy – productivity, innovation and internationalisation – which are underpinned by infrastructure and place, and the levers required to support stronger economic growth which is equitable and sustainable.
* SCDI (Scottish Council for Development & Industry), founded in 1931, is recognised as Scotland’s leading independent economic development organisation, working across the public, private and social economy sectors and representing 1,200 organisations including global corporate companies, SMEs, public sector bodies and educational institutions, professional associations and trade unions, faith groups, charitable and social economy sector organisations.
For further information, please contact
Ross Martin, chief executive, SCDI – firstname.lastname@example.org
Gareth Williams, director of policy, SCDI – email@example.com
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