FM sets out Scottish partnership for growth

Posted in: General News

Major firms give their backing to Scottish Business Pledge.

The Scottish Government will promote the interests of business at every opportunity said the First Minister today as she launched the Scottish Business Pledge – Scotland’s new social and economic partnership for growth – and highlighted Scotland’s distinctive approach to taking on the productivity challenge.

Speaking ahead of the Queen’s Speech, the First Minister also said that the Scottish Government would challenge the UK Government to deliver more for Scottish business through increased public investment, protecting Scotland’s membership of the EU and transferring to Scotland additional powers that can help to boost economic growth.

The First Minister was giving a key note address to business delegates at Tynecastle Stadium, where Heart of Midlothian Football Club became the first business to sign up to the new Scottish Business Pledge. Other early signatories to the pledge include GSK, Virgin Money, Agenor, Hymans Robertson, Strata Cleaning and LogicNow.

Ms Sturgeon highlighted the pledge as part of Scotland’s distinctive efforts to take on the challenges of a modern economy, boost economic productivity and tackle inequality.

In her speech the First Minister said:

“Last year, Scotland recorded its strongest economic growth since 2007. Employment growth has been strong and we’ve recently seen really encouraging figures for female and youth employment – although there is absolutely no room for complacency.

“However, notwithstanding progress made, we still face significant challenges, such as the need to improve productivity, increase exports, diversify our business base and tackle deep-seated inequalities.

“Our economic strategy sets out a vision of an economy based on innovation rather than insecurity; high skills, not low wages; and enhanced productivity instead of reduced job security. We want to climb the global competitiveness rankings on quality, rather than racing to the bottom on costs.

“Increased productivity makes our economy even more competitive, which in turn brings benefits to individuals and communities across the whole of the country.

“However it requires concerted action across all areas of our economy – and indeed across society – to achieve this. That’s why we want to build a partnership for productivity with businesses, the third sector, the wider public sector and trade unions.

“The Fair Work Convention, the Living Wage Accreditation Scheme, and the Scottish Business Pledge are essential features of what is becoming a distinctive Scottish approach to growth. That’s why today’s launch is so significant. I am pleased to see a number of significant Scottish businesses amongst the early sign ups to the Business Pledge and I hope many more companies will sign up in the month and years to come.

On the Queen’s Speech itself the First Minister set out the Scottish Government’s business priorities, saying:

“We will continue to oppose spending reductions of the scale and speed that the UK government has suggested. These would slow economic recovery and make deficit reduction more difficult – something shown by the impact of the cuts imposed after 2010. If the UK Government sticks to its current proposals, we will argue for ways in which the impact on Scotland can be lessened.

“On the issue of an in-out referendum on membership of the EU, we will work to protect Scotland’s interests. We will propose a “double-lock”, meaning that exit is only possible if all four nations of the UK agree to it – something which would prevent Scotland from being forced out of the EU against our will.

“And we will seek greater powers for Scotland. We want to ensure that the recommendations of the Smith Commission are met in full. We are also seeking additional responsibilities – beyond the ones which the Smith Commission identified. In particular, greater power over business taxes, employment and trade union law, the minimum wage and welfare would enable us to create jobs, grow the economy, and lift people out of poverty.

“These are not powers for their own sake – they are powers to enable us to work more effectively in partnership with business to boost growth, to increase investment, to support employment and to deliver better jobs.”

Scottish Government