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Scots 'would £4,100 better off'

New powers ‘will help build a stronger economy’

Nicola Sturgeon: ‘we need to maximise our strengths’ (photo by Terry Murden)


A long-awaited report will argue that Scotland can use the powers created by independence to match the performance of other small economies.

The 354-page document, which will be published on Friday, will present an optimistic outlook but it will “not shy away from Scotland’s challenges”.

Its core finding is that an independent Scotland can emulate the world’s 12 best performing small advanced economies (SAEs), closing the growth gap and driving GDP per head to the median of these best performing economies.

The report concludes that achieving this would be worth additional economic output in Scotland equivalent to an extra £4,100 per person in Scotland.

The Commission identifies ways in which Scotland can match the success of other small countries using powers available now and with independence.

The 12 small advanced economies considered by the Commission are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland – with lessons learned from Denmark, Finland and New Zealand in particular.

The Commission has used recommendations from these economies to design a ‘Next generation economic model” to drive Scottish economic growth over the next 25 years and beyond.

A key lesson is that a sustainable improvement in living standards can be delivered over a generation of purposeful, cross partisan strategic effort and focus.

The analysis shows that small economies have performed better than larger ones consistently by around 0.7 percentage points per year in economic growth rate, over the last 25 years on average.

This growth performance has meant that the benchmark group of countries has held its share of the global economy, remaining competitive even against large emerging markets, while the share of many large economies, including the UK, has retreated substantially.

There is no timetable for independence in the report which instead focuses on building the case for it.

Former SNP front bench spokesman Andrew Wilson has delivered the final report of the Sustainable Growth Commission to SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who commissioned him to undertake a detailed study of the economy in September 2016.

The report is entitled Scotland – the new case for optimism: a strategy for inter-generational economic renaissance.

Overall, the Commission found that small countries have effective, responsive governments, with a well-developed sense of strategic capacity, high levels of trust and social cohesion, and the ability to adapt in response to changing international circumstances.

Based on this analysis and an assessment of Scotland’s economic strengths the report makes 30 recommendations on growth which if implemented now and with the powers that would come with independence would help Scotland emulate the growth rates of comparable nations.

The party will hold a series of National Assemblies over the summer to debate and discuss the report’s recommendations ahead of the party’s annual national conference in October.

The Sustainable Growth Commission drew on research, as well as analysis of its members, meetings with organisations across Scotland and by considering independently offered advice.

The report is in three parts covering:

– opportunities for growth, both now and with independence,
– sustainable public finances
– consideration of currency issues for an independent Scotland

Each National Assembly will consider a different section of the report and will be chaired by the Depute Leader of the SNP who will be announced at a party conference on 8/9 June.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Scotland has strong foundations in business, in innovation and in our talented workforce – but we need to maximise our strengths to match the economic performance of successful independent nations of comparable size.

“At a time when economic thinking and debate is heavily focused on how we limit the damaging impacts of Brexit on Scotland, this report provides an opportunity to step back, to look at Scotland’s economic future with optimism and to focus on how we seize our opportunities and achieve our full potential as a nation.

“The report of the Growth Commission does not shy away from Scotland’s challenges – instead it looks at how we can address these challenges positively and in line with our core values as a nation.

“It is not a report about the timing of a referendum – rather, it focuses on the ‘why’ of independence and how we can use the powers it will deliver to build a stronger economy and a fairer society.

“In so doing, it heralds the start of a debate based on hope and ambition about the future of the country, rather than on the despair of Brexit.

“I’m very grateful to Andrew and all the members of the Commission who have given generously of their time and talents to undertake what is a very substantial piece of work.

“It is now for the SNP to consider the report’s recommendations. All members will have the chance to discuss the report in detail at local and national events over the summer, and to listen to the views of people across the country before the party takes a formal view on the report’s recommendations.”

Mr Wilson (right), who works in public affairs, said: “Learning from 12 successful small nations, our report will present a framework that demonstrates how Scotland can emulate the best performing economies and societies in the world.

“Our sincere hope is that this can raise the content and quality of debate at a time such a focus is sorely needed.

“As a first step there must be an acceptance that small nations can be successful and that Scotland can be one of those countries. Our work shows that small countries can be amongst the most economically successful countries in the world, with higher standards of living and lower levels of inequality than many larger economies.

“There is nothing intrinsic in any of the best performing economies that Scotland does not have. To secure an improvement in our performance will take purposeful strategic effort for over a generation. We require world class policy, world class institutions and cross partisan effort if we are to achieve our ambition to create a much more successful economy and cohesive and fair society.

“We have produced a design to demonstrate how Scotland can emulate the best performing economies and societies in the world sustainably. Our sincere hope is that this can raise the content and quality of debate at a time such a focus is sorely needed.

“We believe that the whole report provides the most substantially considered economic policy proposals for Scotland and independence that have been produced to date, with challenge and opportunity for all sides of Scotland’s debate.”

These are the 12 key lessons from across the group of Small Advanced Economies studied by the Commission: 1. Quality of governance & disciplined public finances 2. Long-term cross partisan strategy 3. Focus on innovation 4. Competitive location for international investment 5. Exploiting Scotland’s resource endowment sustainably 6. Export-orientation 7. Migration-friendly 8. Flexible labour markets combined with fair & progressive workplace & active employment policies including reducing the gender pay gap 9. Highly skilled workforce with transferable skills 10. Taxation for economic development; not competing as low tax location 11. Inclusive growth at the heart of the strategy 12. Quality of life as an asset and objective

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “The economic transformation Scotland needs and wants will not be delivered by Scotland leaving the UK. No amount of promises made by SNP advisers and politicians will change that. 

“The people of Scotland will rightly be wary of fantasy numbers plucked from thin air by the SNP and promised to every man,woman and child in the country in the event of Scotland leaving the UK. 

“Only Labour is proposing to change our economy and make it work for everyone,by making the richest and big corporations pay their fair share,and an industrial strategy with the state playing a more active role in economic growth. 

“It is becoming clearer and clearer that only Labour offers the radical but credible vision of an anti-austerity Scotland that people want.”

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