Finance Secretary launches economic action plan

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The Scottish Government has launched an economic action plan, including an £18 million fund for advanced manufacturing and the piloting of two new “productivity clubs” for businesses.

The plan also sets out ministers’ commitment to a “stable and competitive” tax regime, and pledges to launch a “Come to Scotland” campaign, aimed at attracting workers in the wake of the UK’s departure from the EU.

The document was launched by the Finance Secretary Derek Mackay during a visit to a business in Edinburgh.

It follows the latest report from the government’s chief economist, which found Scotland’s economy continued to strengthen during the first half of the year, but Brexit remains a key concern for many sectors.

Measures set out include the establishment of an £18 million Advanced Manufacturing Challenge Fund, and work with businesses to pilot two ‘productivity clubs’ to support firms to help each other to “improve managerial capability and diffusion of technology and innovation”.

“The Scottish Government’s economic strategy sets out our vision for sustainable and inclusive growth,” Mr Mackay said.

“Growth that boosts competitiveness while tackling inequalities and delivers for our communities, for the environment, and for workers and business.

“The economic action plan reinforces our unwavering commitment to this vision and sets out actions that are all designed to support businesses, and accelerate growth and prosperity for all.”

The document was welcomed by Stuart Mackinnon of the Federation of Small Businesses, but he added the plan “must be matched with diligent execution, and a focus on making a tangible difference to Scotland’s business environment”.

Greens convener Patrick Harvie criticised the government’s commitment to road infrastructure investment, and called for increased focus on a low-carbon economy.

He also called for more action on fair work, adding the government should “use its business support muscle to restrict companies that treat employees badly or carry out work that damages society”.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said there was nothing in the plan about tackling “lagging productivity by investing in people through mental health”.

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