Election manifesto

Prosper tests parties’ commitment to growth

Sara Thiam
Sara Thiam: ‘we need long-term focus’

Prosper, the Scottish economic network, wants the general election campaign to focus on driving up investment and productivity in the economy in order to support spending on public finances.

In its Growing for Good manifesto, the organisation has set six key tests that it says political parties must meet if Scotland’s economy is to grow. 

They focus on Investing in productivity and skills, together with specific measures to nurture business purpose, transition to a net-zero economy and build place-based growth.

Prosper puts a long-term industrial policy and new trade deals, including the EU, at the heart of a productivity drive, and calls for a “skilled migration strategy” to attract talent.

The membership organisation argues that the economy stands at a “critical juncture” and the Scottish and wider UK economies must generate sustained growth to lift social prosperity and fund public services. 

In a message to all parties that appears to address what are deemed as “anti-business” policies, Sara Thiam, chief executive at Prosper, says: “Our question is a simple one. Does your party have a policy programme that will support a prosperous future?

“Prosper is open-eyed about the scale of the challenges, but we are also optimistic that policy tools are available to transition to a more prosperous and sustainable future.

“If there is a single request of you from our diverse membership it is that, from Day One, you bring to these tasks the long-term focus, approach and collaboration that they will require.”  

Graeme Blackett, director at Biggar Economics, says: “Prosper’s General Election Manifesto provides a sound basis for a programme for government.

“In the coming years, public finances will be challenging. This Manifesto provides clear guidance for how the government can direct resources to those areas where there will be a return on investment.

“That will lead to economic prosperity and generate the taxation revenues needed to provide high quality public services in the future. We face many economic challenges, but each of them also presents an economic opportunity that can be grasped if the government works collaboratively with business and civic Scotland.”

The six tests:

Test Key Actions 
Investment * Long-term economic strategy
* Crowd in private finance 
* Multi-year public service budgets
* Higher capital and preventative spending
* Public service reform 
Productivity  * Long-term industrial policy
* Grow world-class innovation clusters
* Negotiate new trade deals (including EU)
* Grow green trade, services trade and digital trade 
Skilled Workforce  * Funding and reforms for education, skills and employability
* Incentives for employer investment in training and reskilling
* Enhanced rights and protections for all workers
* Skilled migration strategy to attract talent, including tailoring for Scotland’s skills and working population needs 
Business Purpose  * Pass the Better Business Act
* Tax framework incentivising purposeful models and practices
* Make Scotland and the UK global hubs for purposeful businesses
* Forge new public, private and third sector partnerships 
Net Zero  * Deliver net zero target and carbon budgets
* Credible plan to transition to a net-zero economy
* Support industries, workers, places and consumers
* Build a homegrown energy transition
* Deliver North Sea Transition Deal 
Place-based Growth  * 30-year National Infrastructure Strategy
* Mobilise higher private and public investment
* Speed up planning system and consenting of critical infrastructure including grid connections
* Multi-decade commitment to regional growth/levelling up 

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