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As jobless tally rises...

High growth firms secure support in £230m package

Kate Forbes

Kate Forbes: ‘harnessing Scotland’s talent’

Scotland’s vital high growth companies are to receive part of £230 million reallocated from underspent schemes.

The Scottish government will divert £51m to further business support, including those companies with high growth potential.

It will aim to ease pressure on technology firms following warnings that many, particularly the early stage pre-profit firms, could go out of business.

It is expected that the money will be targeted at firms working at business parks such as Edinburgh BioQuarter and the Michelin Innovation Parc as well as the regeneration project at Ravenscraig.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes announced the funding in a Return to Work scheme that will also be used to support education and maintain roads. It also covers construction and low carbon projects.

New projects featured in the package include:

– £51 million for business support, including boosting high growth companies

– £78 million for construction, including £40 million for regeneration projects and £20 million for roads maintenance

– £66 million to kick-start the green recovery, including £7 million to equip buses for physical distancing and the return to work

– £35.5 million for digitisation, including justice and education services

Ms Forbes, who also sought Parliament’s support for the Scottish Government’s call to be granted additional borrowing powers to manage the crisis, said: “The impact of COVID-19 has been enormous on both businesses and individuals and the Scottish Government has so far spent more than £4 billion tackling its effects.

“We are also taking steps to accelerate our economic recovery and this package ensures that we can make immediate use of money which, because of the pandemic, might otherwise not have been spent this year.

“I do not underestimate the challenges we face but I also see opportunities. It is important we take this chance to reshape our economy in a way that works for everyone and promotes long-term growth, not just quick fixes.

“This £230 million delivers investment across Scotland and will boost the green recovery, speed up digitisation and bolster construction, supporting hundreds of jobs.

“The Return to Work package is part of a process to harness Scotland’s talent and resources and build a modern economy that is robust, fair and sustainable. But it is only a start. Larger programmes will follow and I will continue pressing the UK Government both for new financial powers and greater certainty over funding.

“These additional powers are now absolutely essential – without them Scotland will be planning for recovery with one hand tied behind our back

Labour Summit on unemployment

Jamie Hepburn

Jamie Hepburn: meeting

Scottish government ministers are convening a Labour Market Summit tomorrow following new figures showing the unemployment rate in Scotland jumped to 4.6%, representing an increase of 30,000 to 127,000.

The Office for National Statistics said that across the UK there has been a 612,000 fall in the number of people on payrolls.

However, the UK unemployment rate between February and April was unchanged on January to March, at 3.9%. The claimant count rate for May rose by 528.000 to a total of 2.8m.

The UK employment rate was estimated at 76.4%, 0.3 percentage points higher than a year earlier but 0.1 percentage points down on the previous quarter.

Scottish Business, Fair Work and Skills Minister Jamie Hepburn, pictured, said: “Between February and April 2020, Scotland’s employment rate estimate fell over the quarter to 74.3% and the unemployment rate estimate rose over the quarter to 4.6%.

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“These are the first labour market statistics to include a full month of lockdown measures, and show clearly the scale of the challenge facing Scotland as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Scotland’s labour market has changed drastically since the lockdown measures were imposed. As such we will be convening a Labour Market Summit tomorrow.”

Mr Hepburn will be joined by Deputy First Minister John Swinney, Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop, and Further Education Minister Richard Lochhead and representatives of Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council.

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