Business for Scotland response to the Autumn Statement
Founder and CEO Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp has welcomed the decision on fuel duty, but said plans to increase it should not even have been considered in the first place.
And he warned that a hard Brexit would adversely impact Scotland’s high value exports, particularly in the growing food and drink sector.
“Freezing fuel duty could mean savings of up to £350 a year for delivery van operators and thousands for operators of larger trucks, which is important for deliveries to Scotland’s rural communities,” he said.
“The planned investment in roads in England should mean money becomes available for infrastructure upgrades in Scotland, and we believe this money should be spent on extending platforms and upgrading the east coast rail line as a priority.
“The Borders railway provides a great case study for the demand for rural railway connections and large towns such as Peterhead and Fraserburgh should be first in line for new railway connections. However, the additional infrastructure expenditure announced amounts to only a .25% increase so it won’t actually make that much of a difference.
“Investment in productivity is welcomed but 35 years of keeping the pound artificially strong for the sake of the finance and property markets has destroyed the manufacturing base in both the UK and Scotland, and as a result the spend on close to market R&D has fallen to such low levels it has resulted in a fall in added value production and productivity; this will take a generation to recover. Twenty years of consecutive manufacturing declines means the UK Government is delusional to expect to trade its way out of the looming Brexit driven recession, when its own OBR is suggesting Brexit will decrease exports every year till 2020 compared to its pre Brexit vote forecasts.
“Brexit continues to dominate the economic outlook and a hard Brexit would be extremely damaging for Scotland, especially its growing food and drink sector and other high value exports to the EU.
“Any budget now is just a placeholder till the negative effects of the UK government’s mismanagement of Brexit starts to impact during the two year Brexit negotiation process and the likely 2019 exit from the EU.
“A radical change in economic policy is required and so this budget brings to mind the old saying about rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.”