First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a raft of measures — including an extra £100 million of funding — to stimulate the Scottish economy in the wake of the EU referendum.
Sturgeon said the referendum outcome had created “deep and widespread” uncertainty in Scottish economy with the impact on jobs and investment already being felt.
She said the UK Government had not yet taken any meaningful action to boost confidence so the Scottish Government was announcing early action to support business and stimulate the economy.
The Scottish Government said capital spending on projects to support and create employment will be accelerated, starting with an additional £100 million of funding in this financial year.
Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief executive Liz Cameron welcomed the plans to accelerate capital spending but said it must be backed up by action to tackle businesses’ cost base.
The capital funding will be used to speed up delivery of health and other infrastructure projects.
“Projects will be assessed for accelerated funding against a range of criteria including how quickly work can start, the number of jobs that will be supported or created, the likely impact on the supply chain and geographic spread,” said the Scottish Government.
The First Minister also called on the UK Government to give “early certainty” about EU Structural Funds and to “urgently announce its own economic stimulus package” which it said would enable the Scottish Government to do even more.
“As I have made clear since the EU referendum, the Scottish Government will pursue all possible options to protect Scotland’s relationship with the EU and ensure that our voice is heard,” said Sturgeon.
“However, it is also important to act now to support and stimulate the economy.
“Scotland is and remains an attractive and stable place to do business – however, there is no doubt that the referendum outcome has created deep and widespread uncertainty, with the impact on jobs and investment already being felt.
“The UK Government has not yet taken any meaningful action to alleviate uncertainty or to boost confidence, and there are very real concerns that the damage to the economy and to jobs will be severe and long lasting.
“It is against this background that the Scottish Government is announcing early action to boost confidence, stimulate economic activity and support business.
“Our Infrastructure Investment Plan is already delivering major infrastructure improvements, with projects worth almost £6 billion currently under construction – we will now inject a further £100 million of spending this year to accelerate planned projects.
“We will also provide business with wider support to help them navigate the uncertainty caused by the referendum result.
“Business organisations have asked for a single point of contact and we will shortly launch a new Business Information Service that will provide up-to-date information and advice, and answer questions from individual businesses, going some way to alleviate business concerns about the future.
“We will also establish a new Post-Referendum Business Network, to work more closely and collaboratively with the main business bodies, the STUC and the Scotland Office to help shape future policy and support for business.
“These three initial measures will help support new and existing jobs and alleviate business concerns at this difficult time.
“However, it is important that the UK government also acts and I am calling today for urgent action on two fronts – firstly, early assurance about EU Structural Funds and, second, a UK wide stimulus package which, through consequential funding, would enable the Scottish Government to do more to accelerate capital spending.”
Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “This is a great example of the Scottish Government using devolved powers it has at its disposal to deliver a timely boost to the Scottish economy.
“However, it must be clearly targeted to provide a shot in the arm to Scotland’s businesses and to support jobs in the short, medium and long term.
“This is a very welcome first step in the process of supporting businesses.
“Businesses are looking for our governments in Edinburgh and London to invest in infrastructure and skills in order to support business at this crucial time.
“We would also ask that the Scottish Government follows this up with action to reduce the cost base of businesses, including a reduction in the burden of business rates and an acceleration of the planned reduction in Air Passenger Duty.”