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Tories claim credit for progress

Scottish economy grows fastest for nine years

John SwinneyScotland’s economy last year grew at its fastest rate since 2006 and is 2.3% above the pre-recession peak.

New figures show it rose by 0.6% in the final quarter and by 2.7% over the whole of 2014.

However, the annual rate is half the rate of the UK which has grown at 5.1% above its strongest pre-recession level.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney (pictured), said: “Growth in the latest quarter was driven by construction in particular, which rose by 6.1 per cent over the quarter.

“During 2014, the construction sector expanded by 13 per cent and the sector is also now performing above pre-recession levels. There was also encouraging growth in the production industries, expanding by 1 per cent over the quarter.”

The Tories said growth in the economy was a result of its policies at UK level.

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Gavin Brown said: “This is a direct result of the careful economic management by the Conservatives, as macroeconomic levers are controlled by the UK government.”

Commenting on the Scottish figures, Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “This is further evidence that 2014 was a good year for Scottish business.

“As we have found in our own research, a sharp pick up in construction activity towards the end of the year contributed significantly to continued solid growth levels.  Prior to the beginning of 2014, the Scottish economy was only expected to grow by 1.8%, so to have returned annual growth last year of 2.7% is the result of significant successes within Scotland’s business community.

“That said, we all know that 2014 was an exceptional year on many levels.  The challenge this year will be to sustain these growth levels and to secure the foundations to produce even higher levels of growth in future.  Good businesses are never at rest and are always innovating.  With the right support from government, we are eager to make Scotland an even more prosperous and successful economy.”

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