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GDP maintains three years of growth

Scotland’s economy defies headwinds to expand again

John Swinney at DigitalScotland’s economy grew marginally in the third quarter, according to figures published today.

Total output rose 0.1% for the period July to September 2015, or 1.7% on an annual basis compared to the same quarter last year. The corresponding UK figures are 0.4% and 2.1% respectively.

The Scottish economy has now grown for three years with output now 3.1% above its pre-recession peak.

Backed by public sector investment, construction expanded by 17.3% over the year, with quarterly growth of 0.9%

The services sector rose by 0.7% over the year – with quarterly growth of 0.3%.

While production output was flat over the year and down over the quarter (-1%), reflecting the difficult conditions for manufacturing and production in general, there was growth in Food and Drink sub-sector of 2.7% over the quarter.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “Today’s figures show further growth in the Scottish economy during a period of significant challenge for our key export markets and in particular for the energy sector in Scotland given the impact of lower commodity prices.

“It is encouraging that growth has remained positive given these strong economic headwinds and, in particular, that the service sector which accounts for around three quarters of the output of the economy has continued to grow by 0.3 per cent over the quarter. This, in part, has been driven by strong growth in the accommodation and food, and retail and wholesale subsectors.

“Expansion in the construction sector continues to show the benefits of the Scottish Government’s decision to invest in Scotland’s infrastructure, with key projects such as the Queensferry Crossing helping to underpin growth.

“The statistics, however, show that the Scottish economy, like that of the UK, is continuing to feel the effect of significant challenges such as a slowdown in global demand – a situation exacerbated by the continuing low price of oil and the effect this is having on the industry and its supply chain.

“We created the Energy Jobs Taskforce a year ago this month and our efforts remain focused on retaining the jobs, skills and talent which are the bedrock of Scotland’s internationally renowned sector. The taskforce and the Scottish Government will continue to do all that we can to help the North Sea industry and to improve collaboration, cooperation and innovation across the sector. We recognise that this remains a difficult time for that sector and those who work in it and we will provide all possible support.

“We have now seen three years of continuous expansion in the Scottish economy, demonstrating strong resilience as we continue to recover from the recession and the impact of external challenges. We must, however, remain vigilant and the Scottish Government will continue to do all that it can to secure further economic growth and promote Scotland as a world-class place to do business.”

Hugh AitkenHugh Aitken (right), CBI Scotland Director, said: “These figures show that Scotland’s economic growth tailed off sharply during 2015. Manufacturing acted as a drag in Q3, while the service sector was more resilient. But even here the picture is nuanced, with consumer-facing sectors doing better than other services firms.

“Looking ahead, while lower energy costs and inflation will boost households’ purchasing power, Scotland remains vulnerable to renewed falls in global oil prices, as many key players in the industry’s supply chain are located here. With prices set to stay low and the North Sea basin ageing, it’s more important than ever that there is a stable regulatory and fiscal framework to support the industry.”

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