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National Strategy for Economic Transformation: second annual progress report

Second annual progress report on the delivery of the 10 year National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET).


by Barry White, Co-chair of NSET Delivery Board

One of the principal drivers behind the creation of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET) was the understanding that, in order to deliver a wealthier, fairer and greener Scottish economy, government needed to more fully embrace a culture of delivery.

Over the last two years, the NSET Delivery Board has played a key role in ensuring that culture of delivery and action underpins all of NSET's work. The Board comprises a group of business leaders, skills experts, and trade union and third sector representation who provide steer and challenge, hold delivery partners to account and champion a culture of delivery.

Since the strategy's launch, it has met 14 times to oversee implementation and make strategic connections across programmes. This includes regular reviews of progress at detailed performance and delivery sessions and exploring the strategy's long-term needs at deep dives on cross-cutting topics, such as regional economic policy, housing supply and female participation in entrepreneurship.

In particular, the Board has highlighted the importance of increasing housing supply as a key enabler of Scotland's economic transformation. Businesses, individuals and investors need to be able to flexibly access a housing market that meets their needs in order to relocate, build new supply chains or open new premises. For this reason, the Board recommended that housing be a key economic priority going forward.

The Board has also focused on the economic opportunities available to Scotland as a result of the global transition to a net zero economy. It was clear to the Board that actions with the greatest potential to impact this area should be prioritised – and our growing green economy is certainly proof of that. Our view was shared by the First Minister's Investor Panel, which stated that offshore wind is the single most important opportunity for attracting capital to Scotland and raising Scotland's wider investment profile. This type of high-quality investment helps create a more open and outward-facing economy, augments domestic supply chains, improves productivity and provides well-paid, skilled jobs.

The Board noted much good progress in the past 12 months with some notable successes such as announcing up to £500m strategic investment to support offshore wind, and with Sumitomo choosing to invest in a £350m subsea cable factory at Nigg, becoming the first investment to realise the benefits of the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport package. The Board also highlighted need in the public sector for a purification of responsibility on the key actions in the green economy, such as streamlining the consenting and planning process, so that Scotland can continue to compete internationally to attract the offshore wind supply chain to locate in Scotland.

Clear, early progress has been made during the second year of the strategy, and we must continue to use a culture of delivery to inform priority actions for future years, to seize the opportunities in the green economy and build a more entrepreneurial nation.

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