Devolution best for business
DFM: ‘success of our business sector underpins the prosperity and wellbeing of every community in Scotland’.
Deputy First Minister and Finance Secretary John Swinney today (Tuesday, February 10) will visit London and will call for further devolved powers on business to help generate growth, secure a better economic position and attract higher levels of investment for Scotland’s businesses.
The Deputy First Minister will take part in a panel discussion at the British Chambers of Commerce annual conference on the benefits of devolution for business. His message to delegates will be that Scotland’s impressive track record on devolved policies shows an approach tailored to local circumstances would give Scotland’s businesses the best economic position.
Since devolution, Scotland’s performance has improved across a range of indicators. Since 2007, further progress in narrowing historic gaps in performance with the UK has been made. This can be credited to devolved policies being tailored to the best Scottish approach, rather than a UK wide model. Despite the economic downturn, success stories include:
- Scotland’s output per head ranking within the UK increased from 4th to 3rd between 2007 and 2013 – with Scotland now ranking behind only London and the South East
- The value of Scotland’s international exports has increased by around 40% between 2007 and 2013 (from £20 billion to £27.9 billion)
- In each year since 2007 the Ernst & Young Attractiveness Survey has found that Scotland was ranked in the top two UK regions outside London for Foreign Direct Investment
- Business investment on Research &Development has increased by 29% since 2007.
- The Scottish employment level is at record high and Scotland remains the best-performing UK nation on all headline labour market indicators.
The Scottish Government has now entered a phase of detailed negotiations on proposed further devolved legislation on the back of the Smith Commission report. The Scottish Government believes that all recommendations should be delivered in full by the UK Government. This includes:
- Devolution of Air Passenger Duty which would provide an opportunity for tax competition. The Scottish Government has set out plans to halve the tax by 2020 and remove it thereafter when possible
- Enhanced borrowing powers
- Devolution of the Work programme to enhance employability training, complementing existing devolved education and training, and responsive to local need
Ahead of his appearance at the British Chambers of Commerce annual conference, the Deputy First Minister said:
“This Government is enthusiastic in our support for business and that is why it is good for the economy to increase the devolved powers of the Parliament and to allow us to provide a local, Scottish-specific approach to help generate growth, secure a better economic position and attract higher levels of investment.
“Enhancing the powers of the Scottish Parliament is key in enabling us to tackle the geographic disparity across the UK. Scotland performs well compared to London and the South East but we still lag behind.
“Increased powers over air passenger duty, the ability to retain highly skilled graduate students from around the world and a high speed rail line all the way between Scotland and London are just some of the additional powers that could make a real difference.
“And many business organisations wanted to see more powers transferred such as minimum wage, R&D credits or capital gains tax. Key levers which could benefit the Scottish economy and boost business in Scotland.
“The success of our business sector underpins the prosperity and wellbeing of every community in Scotland – not the austerity measures imposed upon us by the UK Government.
“As the First Minster said in her first major address to Scotland’s business sector, our drive as a government to tackle inequality in our society is also a key part of our support for business. We believe – in common with many economists across the world – that equality and cohesion are good for growth, as well as good for individuals.
“There is no doubt that Scotland is a entrepreneurially strong, innovative and attractive place for companies to invest in and do business with but we are committed to see our business sector achieve even more.”
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