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23 November 2023 | Economy

Ministers Urged to Remove Barriers to Growth in Scottish Budget

Prosper, a leading Scottish economic network, has set out recommendations for the Scottish Government to promote growth and start to restore public finances.

Following the UK Autumn Statement this week, attention turns to the Scottish Budget for 2024-25 which will be published in December. In a letter to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance Shona Robison, Prosper says that its members have highlighted five areas of action which can create a more successful economy.

Prosper’s key recommendations for the Scottish Budget are:

  1. Invest in and reform the education and skills system to provide more learning opportunities for people throughout their working lives, and fund colleges and universities at a level that supports and sustains their contributions to Scottish prosperity.
  2. Set out detailed timetables to deliver infrastructure projects (e.g. A9 dualling and new ferries), and – following the Chancellor’s announcements to cut times for grid connections – tackle key barriers for all developments including funding for the planning system and streamlining processes.
  3. Invest in research and innovation, and target opportunities from Innovate UK funding, the UK’s association with Horizon Europe and other sources.
  4. Use tax powers to support Scotland’s productivity and competitiveness for skilled workers and businesses, and avoid exacerbating costs pressures.
  5. Promote strategic financial planning by public services, such as moving to multi-year budgets, to become fit for the future rather than fire-fighting..

Sara Thiam, Chief Executive, Prosper, said: “We are calling for a greater urgency about improving Scotland’s long term economic performance. There are immediate challenges, including the costs crisis and deteriorating public finances, which must be addressed, but increasing sustainable and inclusive economic growth is the only route to avoiding annual fire-fighting. This makes it even more critical that the Scottish Budget 2024-25 is at the heart of a wider policy drive to provide strategic clarity about the investment priorities of the Scottish Government. Our members want budget decisions that will unleash the private, public and third sectors to deliver a ‘fair, green and growing’ Scottish economy.”

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