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SNP pledges £50m for project that ‘transforms’ economy

Kate Forbes

Kate Forbes: supporting business (pic: Terry Murden)

Scotland’s businesses are being offered up to £50 million to come up with a project that will “transform” the economy.

The National Challenge competition is among a £270 million package of measures pledged by the SNP’s Kate Forbes to help create businesses and develop the digital and rural economies.

She has promised a new Women’s Business Centre as “too few women get the help they need to start out in business.”

In an online campaign address Ms Forbes repeated the SNP mantra of building a fairer economy with the condition that its plans in government are only held back by not having the full levers of power to go further.

She has already announced an increase in housebuilding and will commit to a ten-year programme.

She said the SNP’s latest plans include:

– A £50m Women’s Business Centre to help create, grow and develop the next generation of women-led businesses.

– A £100 million Digital Boost scheme to support small businesses to become fully digitalised and access the benefits and productivity gains of the digital economy.

– A National Challenge competition, providing funding of up to £50 million to the project with the greatest potential to transform Scotland’s economy.

– A £20 million Rural Entrepreneur Fund – providing grants of up to £10,000 to support the creation of 2,000 new businesses.

Ms Forbes said: “Our capital spending review published in February set our plans for infrastructure – including £2 billion for new schools, £1.2 billion in major rail improvements and over half a billion in our City and Region Deal programme.

“And if re-elected we will go further. To inject confidence in our economy, create jobs and deliver infrastructure that works for households and businesses, we are committing to an ambitious programme of investment.”

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She commited to a ten-year programme to deliver 100,000 affordable homes, with 70,000 for social rent.

The Digital Boost scheme will support small businesses, which may be an extension of the existing service provided by Business Gateway.

She provided no details on the “National Challenge” and how, or by whom, it would judged.

On the extra investment for the rural economy, she said: “In my part of the world, jobs go hand in hand with population retention – so to encourage people to move to the Highlands and support entrepreneurs here already, we will create a new, £20 million Rural Entrepreneur Fund – providing grants of up to £10,000 to support the creation of 2,000 new businesses.”

Ms Forbes added: “We will commit to using every penny and every power to invest in this country and support businesses to create jobs.

“But the bottom line is, that despite all the many strengths of the Scottish economy, we need the full levers of control, if we really want to be more prosperous, more just and fairer.”



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