Scotland records 0.3% economic growth in final quarter of 2017

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Economic growth in Scotland increased in the last three months of 2017 – although new figures showed annual GDP growth was less than half that of the UK.

Scottish Government figures showed a rise of 0.3% from October to December, up from 0.2% the previous quarter.

Growth in Scotland lagged slightly behind the 0.4% rise in GDP seen across the UK in the final quarter of last year.

In Scotland annual GDP growth for 2017 was 0.8% higher than the previous 12 months, with the UK economy growing by 1.8% over the same period.

The Scottish Government restated its determination to boost the economy in the run-up to Brexit, with ministers warning the country must not be “derailed by damaging decisions of the UK Government”.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said it was “increasingly concerning that a significant gap persists between Scotland’s economy and the rest of the UK”.

GDP in Scotland for the last three months of 2017 was 1.1% higher than it was in the same period of 2016, according to the data.

In the most recent quarter the services sector – which makes up about 75% of Scotland’s economy – grew by 0.5%, while output in the production sector was up by 0.9%

Construction output was estimated to have decreased by 2.6% during October to December – a drop of 6.5% compared to the same period in 2016.

The GDP report said: “This is estimated to be the eighth consecutive quarter of decreasing construction output in Scotland, following a period of exceptionally high growth in the sector during 2014 and 2015.”

Liberal Democrats branded the figures “pathetic”, with economy spokeswoman Councillor Carolyn Caddick stating: “People will be disappointed that for all their speeches SNP ministers have not been able to keep pace with the growth in the rest of the UK. UK growth itself is pretty pathetic.”

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Employability and Training, said: “With four consecutive quarters of positive growth in 2017, Scotland’s economy continues to show strength.  Compared to the same point in 2016, Scotland’s economy grew by 1.1%, growing 0.3% during the final quarter of 2017.”

He added: “These figures are welcome, but we are determined to do more to grow our economy and protect Scotland from the headwinds of Brexit.

“The Scottish Government is investing a record £2.4 billion in enterprise and skills, £4 billion in new infrastructure and £600 million in broadband, to ensure every home or business premise in Scotland has access to superfast broadband and that we can secure the benefits of the digital economy – a commitment unmatched across the UK.

“And we are preparing for the future with investments in a new National Manufacturing Institute and the establishment of the Scottish National Investment Bank.

“As we face the potential impact of Brexit to come, the Scottish Government is determined to protect Scotland’s economy and ensure our potential is not derailed by damaging decisions of the UK Government.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell (PA)
Scottish Secretary David Mundell (PA)

The UK Government minister added: “I note a modest improvement in Scotland’s important services sector, and encouraging growth in production industries.

“However, it is increasingly concerning that a significant gap persists between Scotland’s economy and the rest of the UK.

“The Scottish Government has the powers to boost productivity and strengthen the economy, and must use them to close this gap. By making Scotland the highest taxed part of the UK, the Scottish Government risks damaging, rather than growing, our economy.”

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