New economic strategy for Scotland

Written by Michelle Rodger

Scotland’s Economic Strategy sets out a vision for sustainable and inclusive economic growth for the whole country.

Published by the Scottish Government, it makes 22 significant policy commitments on which the Scottish Government will be judged.

The report states: “We want Scotland to be a leader in the technological and social innovations of the future.

“We will harness that innovation to boost productivity and business competitiveness, improve lives for the better across all of Scotland, and to export our solutions, goods and services to the rest of the world. Competitive, innovative businesses focused on best practice, leadership and management are vital to delivering this vision.

“They support sustainable jobs, incomes and our quality of life. We will work in partnership with business so that we can deliver the kind of economy that we want. The actions in this plan will put Scotland at the forefront in transitioning to a carbon neutral, circular economy.”

Scotland’s Economic Strategy commitments

• We will commit to a competitive and stable fiscal regime.

• We will drive forward a National Infrastructure Mission and steadily increase Scotland’s annual infrastructure investment until it is £1.5 billion higher by the end of the next Parliament than in 2019-20. We will identify the priority infrastructure projects that can unlock the greatest productivity gains advised by a new Infrastructure Commission and through the development of the next Infrastructure Investment Plan.

• In partnership with SCDI, we will work with business to pilot two Productivity Clubs to support businesses to help each other to improve managerial capability and diffusion of technology and innovation.

• We will expand the role of the Can Do Business Innovation Forum to enable it to consider and take action on the economic opportunities and challenges of new technologies.

• We will launch a ‘Come to Scotland’ campaign to attract talent and investment.

• We will step up our engagement with the construction sector to support its plans to develop and grow.

• We will work with the Regulatory Review Group and key stakeholders to better understand public sector policy and regulation impacts on our businesses.

• We will consult on a review of our planning fees regulations, including the principle for a developer to pay a higher planning application fee for an accelerated service.

• We will provide companies with information, advice and support to help them develop their skills and capability in digital manufacturing, automation and research and development.

• We will use public procurement to create more opportunities for Scottish businesses, including building on our model to promote agile procurement at greater scale, increasing the level of digital transactions and digital invoicing, streamlining our purchase to pay processes, and redeploying resources to focus on faster payments – all reducing costs for industry.

• We will set up Procurement Innovation Partnerships to solve social challenges while creating opportunities for SMEs.

• We will look to realise the potential of women’s contribution to economic success through the Women in Enterprise Action Framework and the delivery of our forthcoming Gender Pay Gap Action Plan.

• We will integrate and expand up-skilling and re-skilling provision, working with the new National Retraining Partnership involving unions and employers’ organisations to shape the public and private sector response to this.

• We will work with SFC and SDS to develop a more responsive funding model for work-based learning and up-skilling.

• We will increase the pace on the alignment of the education and skills system.

• We will build on the established success of the PACE model to deliver a consistent yet targeted service to companies across Scotland when they need support.

• We will extend fair work criteria to every type of grant, funding stream and business support budget that we can by the end of this Parliament.

• We will deliver a range of different types of leadership and management support which meet the needs of individuals and businesses.

• We will expand, enhance and support the Scotland Can Do approach, including a focus on the needs of women in enterprise and the Creative sector. In addition, we are asking the Enterprise agencies to scale-up the Can Do approach to search out talent and ideas from across the entrepreneurial community.

• We will ensure the enterprise and skills agencies will now work even more closely with regional economic partnerships in recognition of the importance of place in creating successful economies within Scotland.

• We will launch a promotional strategy for Digital Scotland aimed at attracting investors, designers, entrepreneurs and technical talent to think of Scotland as the right place to host data, test technology and start a digital business.

• We will task agencies to build on existing work to develop a National Asset Register of sectors, skills and capabilities that is geographically focused.

The actions

• Delivering a highly competitive and fairer tax system, including the most competitive business rates package of reliefs in the UK.

• Investing record levels in digital and physical infrastructure – by the end of this Parliament investment will be £1.5 billion higher than in 2019/20.

• Supporting sectoral and business transformation and growth by, for example, delivering the National Manufacturing Institute and the new Scottish National Investment Bank.

• Maximising the economic impact for our annual £2.4 billion spend on enterprise and skills support with the help of the business-led Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board.

• Boosting inwards migration through creating one of the most attractive societies to live, work and study in.

• Committing over £1 billion to deliver city region deals throughout Scotland and supporting a diverse and vibrant rural economy by achieving 100% coverage of Scotland with a growth deal.

• Delivering 100% access to superfast broadband of 30Mbps to all homes and businesses across Scotland by the end of 2021.

• Investing in the near doubling of the entitlement to Early Learning and Childcare from 600 to 1140 hours per year from August 2020.

• Boosting productivity by developing Scotland as a Fair Work Nation.

• Investing £20m over the next 3 years to enhance and intensify support to businesses wishing to export.

• Accelerating our transition to a carbon neutral economy: a £60 million Low Carbon Innovation Fund; a £20 million Energy Investment Fund; investment in electric vehicles infrastructure and in the circular economy.

• Driving transformation in industries at the forefront of innovation:through investments in advanced manufacturing, life sciences and financial technology.

• Delivering a 5G strategy: to stimulate markets in high-data products and services and underpin our progress in areas like connected devices, machine learning and Internet of things.

• Supporting data driven innovation: through Innovation Centres such as The Data Lab and Censis.

• Investing in AI technologies: such as a world leading clinical imaging data resource that develops AI applications for the public good.

• A new £20m export investment over the next 3 years to enhance and intensify support to businesses wishing to export.

• Established a Trade Board and network of trade envoys to champion Scottish businesses and exports abroad.

• Launched the Brexit readiness toolkit for businesses to help them plan through the uncertainty and minimise impacts.

• Raising the profile of Scotland’s brand through ‘Scotland is Now’, a collaboration across our agencies.

• Added to our presence in more than 30 countries by adding new offices in Dublin, London and Berlin.

About the author

Michelle Rodger

Michelle is a former national newspaper journalist who co-founded an award-winning IT business before launching Tartan Cat Communications. A social media and crowdfunding expert she manages media and communications for Business for Scotland.

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