Scottish budget to deliver ‘an economy of opportunity’

Scottish budget to deliver 'an economy of opportunity'

Neil Gray

The Scottish Government has announced that more than £5 billion is being invested in building a fair, green and growing economy that creates jobs, supports businesses and helps finance Scotland’s public services and the transition to net zero.

Despite one of the most difficult financial climates since devolution, the Scottish Budget 2024-25 maintains its focus on core priorities and drives forward a government-wide approach to economic transformation, that’s according to the Scottish Government.

Measures include allocating £67 million to kickstart a five-year commitment to develop Scotland’s offshore wind supply chain and ensure the country reaps the benefits of the global expansion in wind power. This brings total Scottish public sector support for offshore wind to £87m next year.

The Budget also boosts annual investment in digital connectivity from £93m to £140m in 2024-25, delivering critical infrastructure to enable businesses to innovate and grow while connecting more than 114,000 homes and companies in rural areas to gigabit-capable broadband through the R100 programme.

Since entrepreneurship is at the heart of Scotland’s economic strategy, a further £9m investment in the Techscalers programme will support the country’s best start-ups with world-class mentoring. The Scottish Government is also prioritising the implementation of Ana Stewart and Mark Logan’s Pathways report, focused on helping more women to start and grow businesses.

The Budget also includes:

  • Putting almost £2.5bn into public transport to provide viable alternatives to car use, and a further £220m in active travel to promote walking, wheeling and cycling
  • Providing £358m to continue accelerating energy efficiency upgrades and installation of clean heating systems
  • Increasing the education and skills budget by £128m
  • Investing £49m to promote the re-use of resources and reduce consumption, modernise recycling and decarbonise waste disposal as part of Scotland’s transition to a
  • Circular economy

Wellbeing economy secretary Neil Gray said: “Our focus is on creating new opportunities for a highly productive, competitive economy, providing thousands of new jobs, embedding innovation and boosting skills.

“We are using all the powers we have to support business and to achieve our ambitious net zero targets. Our strategic investment in offshore wind will stimulate and support private investment in the infrastructure and manufacturing facilities critical to the growth of the sector, and we are delivering a real-terms increase in the education budget to help boost skills and increase productivity. As a priority, we will also consult on options for improving the capacity of local authority planning services.

“Scotland’s finances face a worst-case scenario of underinvestment, which means we must make the difficult choices necessary to focus our limited resources on what will deliver most effectively for people and businesses.

“We’ve seen an Autumn Statement that prioritised a tax cut over investing in public services and infrastructure. The Scottish Government cannot follow this, and has not shied away from taking the tough decisions needed to protect and grow this country’s economy.”

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