News Digest

Scottish economy shrinks, but avoids recession

Construction, housebuilding
Scottish construction slid in final three months of 2023 (pic: Terry Murden / DB Media Services)

Scotland saw its economic output fall by twice as much the UK average in the final three months of last year, though it did not share the slide into recession.

Gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 0.6% from October to December, compared with a 0.3% decline across the UK.

The UK fall tipped the country into a recession because it followed a dip between July and October (Q3), making two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Scotland enjoyed a 0.4% rise in output in Q3, enabling it to avoid reecession.

In the closing three months of 2023, services activity – the chief driver of Scotland’s economy – declined by 0.1%. Construction output slid down by 1.3%, while the production sector suffered a 3% drop.

The figures now suggest Scotland’s economy grew by 0.2% over the previous year, surpassing the 0.1% increase seen for the UK overall in 2023.

Planning system consultation

Ministers are consulting with the public and businesses on measures to improve the planning system.

Initially, they want to hear views on hiring more staff, giving planning authorities the power to set fees locally, increase fees each year in line with inflation and introduce fees for certain services, such as processing agreements and appeals.

A second consultation asks about regulations that would give planning authorities the option of creating Masterplan Consent Areas. These could cover either sites or specific developments such as housing in defined areas and would come with consents granted up-front for projects considered to be of most local benefit. This would simplify consenting for developers and provide certainty, making it easier for them to secure investment.

Planning Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “Over the last year, I have heard a lot about the challenges facing the system. To deliver change responsibly and effectively we need a robust, well-resourced and streamlined planning system to take the sort of decisive action that will make a real difference to people and places.”

Bellshill units

Knight Property Group has announced plans to speculatively develop a new £15 million facility on a vacant six-acre site at Belgowan Street in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire.

The new development will be branded Delta 70, and subject to planning consent, will offer 70,000 sq ft of high specification industrial/logistics warehouse space.

Located within the Bellshill Industrial Estate, Delta 70 will be the sixth speculative property to be built recently at Bellshill by Knight.

The other five are at the 262,000 sq ft Belgrave Logistics Park, which is located within close proximity to this proposed new development.

Barrel repairer expands

Westway Cooperage, founded by the Reilly brothers, has doubled its premises at Canmoor’s Westway industrial park near Glasgow airport.

The business, which specialises in trading and repairing oak casks for the Scotch whisky industry, has expanded its operational space to 9,400 sq ft and increased its headcount to 14.

Wellbeing clinic backed by BBB

A clinic specialising in neurotechnology – a form of cutting-edge wellbeing therapy – has become one of the first businesses to benefit from the British Business Bank’s Investment Fund for Scotland, Smaller Loans fund.

Delivered through DSL Business Finance, the loan of £50,000 has enabled Kedras Clinics to open a second location in Edinburgh’s New Town, following the success of its first clinic in Perth.

The £150 million Investment Fund for Scotland launched in October 2023 and offers loans ranging from £25,000 to £2m and equity investments up to £5m.

The fund is part of the British Business Bank’s commitment to fostering sustainable economic growth by supporting businesses across Scotland.

Clinical psychologist, Dawn Harris launched Kedras Clinics in 2022 building on her 25-year career in the healthcare sector. The clinics provide a service for children, young people and adults, sports professionals, and wellbeing programmes for businesses.

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