Scottish National Investment Bank backed with £2bn over ten years

Keith Brown

The new Scottish National Investment Bank will be operational next year and provide £2 billion in capital over ten years, MSPs have been told.

Responding to an Implementation Plan drawn up by former Tesco Bank boss Benny Higgins and his Advisory Group for the new Scottish National Investment Bank, economy secretary Keith Brown confirmed that Ministers have considered and accepted all 21 recommendations for the Bank and that a Bill will be brought forward in 2019 to establish and capitalise the Bank, following a consultation.

Mr Brown said the Bank will operate on a commercial basis, with a strong ethical focus, and will be independent from Ministers who will set strategic missions for the Bank. The Bank’s board will be responsible and accountable over decisions about where to invest and on what terms so that it fulfils the missions set for it. The Scottish Government is committed to establishing the new Bank as a public body in order to ensure direct alignment between the activities of the Bank and broader economic policy. The types of investment, determined by the Board should include:

  • strategic and patient capital over all stages of firms’ and businesses investment lifecycle
  • substantial financing for major projects which support regeneration and communities and
  • investment in new ideas, to help meet key economic, environmental and social challenges
  • Economy secretary Keith Brown said: “I want to thank Benny Higgins and his Advisory Group for their work on developing an Implementation Plan for a new national investment bank for Scotland. The Cabinet has considered in detail the proposals outlined in Mr Higgins’ Implementation Plan, and has agreed that the Scottish Government will accept all 21 of the recommendations.

    “Many countries around the world benefit from having national investment banks which provide patient, strategic investments that focus on the major economic challenges. National promotional banks play an important role in actively creating and shaping new markets and tackle big societal challenges.

    “That is why we are committed to investing £2 billion over 10 years to capitalise the Bank. This scale is deemed to be ambitious, achievable and realistic, at a level that will make a material difference to the supply of capital to the Scottish economy and can lever in additional private investment.

    “We will further refine its expectations of the Bank, and the missions set for it, through consultation with stakeholders. We will listen to their expectations and priorities for investment and governance of the Bank.”

    During yesterday’s parliamentary debate, the Conservatives warned they would not support legislation to create the bank unless the government streamlined business support and Labour’s Jackie Baillie said her party would invest 10 times as much as the “timid” funding plan.

    The Scottish Greens outlined distinct plans for the proposed Bank to have robust policies on ethical investments, a push towards a zero carbon economy and overall greater scrutiny.

    Green MSP Andy Wightman a Lothian MSP, said: “As a national financial institution, we all have vested collective interests to ensure that this bank will invest in projects and programmes that deliver a sustainable future. With our proposals, the bank will be required to have a strategic focus on the future of the Scottish economy by investing in new low-carbon technologies to build energy resilience.”

    Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie also stressed the need to “kickstart the economy” but warned against a repeat of “Scottish Enterprise giving Amazon millions of pounds and turning a blind eye to the needs of its workers”.

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