Tories accuse SNP of mismanagement

Scottish Enterprise writes off £95m in failed firms

Murdo Fraser

Murdo Fraser: ‘Squandering nearly £100m is simply wasteful’

Scottish Enterprise has invested £95 million over the past decade in businesses which went bust soon after receiving support.

Statistics obtained by the Scottish Conservatives reveal 698 instances where the agency supported a firm, only to subsequently waive the investment. 

The Tories, who say it is an example of failed SNP enterprise policy, pointed to lost investments such as £15m awarded to Aquamarine, the Edinburgh wave power firm which ceased trading in 2015.

A further £16m was abandoned the previous year in Pelamis, another wave power firm.

The Glasgow-based economic development agency is currently seeking a new chief executive after Lena Wilson left after eight years at the helm.

As Daily Business revealed last month, her successor will be employed on a lower salary. Applications closed on Friday.

There has been speculation of a shake-up of the agency, partly driven by the creation of a new national investment bank under the guidance of outgoing Tesco Bank CEO Benny Higgins.

This has created some uncertainty around the current Scottish Investment Bank, the agency’s main funding provider. It has been a co-investor in many early stage growth companies alongside management, clearing banks, angel syndicates and private equity firms.

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “With enterprise policy, there will always be a risk of investments going wrong.

“That’s the very nature of the business, but for nearly £100 million to have been squandered in this way is simply wasteful.

“The SNP is meant to use taxpayers’ money responsibly to support enterprise development and fledgling businesses, providing a general boost to the economy in the process.

“But too often these investments have come to nothing, and the public purse has been seriously dented as a consequence.

“If the SNP is serious about running a tight financial ship, it should do more to ensure future investments are made more wisely.” 

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