Time to set a vision to become a “post-poverty country”.
SCOTLAND has the economic firepower to create 300,000 jobs in new industries over the next decade and become a ‘post-poverty country’, according to a major new report published today on the country’s growth prospects.
Released for a conference on the Scottish economy in Edinburgh today (THURSDAY), the report calls for a new UK-Scottish Government industrial strategy to harness the country’s expertise in high growth sectors.
By investing the proceeds of growth into a new Scottish Work Programme, the report says Scotland could target the eradication of extreme poverty from Scotland by 2033.
Writing in the foreword, former UK Prime Minister and founder of Our Scottish Future Gordon Brown calls on Scottish political leaders to focus on a “decade of delivery” which gets the country back to long-term high rates of growth.
Today’s conference – entitled Better Jobs, Better Skills, Better Pay – will see a host of speakers setting out their vision for economic growth, based on the country’s world leading strengths in emerging sectors such as life sciences, digital tech, business services and advanced manufacturing.
Held in partnership with the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, the event will hear from Mr Brown, former Science Minister Lord Sainsbury, Dame Heather McGregor, the principal of Chroma Ventures Chris van der Kuyl, ex-Unilever CEO Alan Jope, ECC chief executive Liz McAreavey, and shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray.
The report, led by Harvard Kennedy School scholar Dan Turner, argues that by focussing on Scotland’s emerging strengths, there is no reason why the country should not aim for historically high growth rates within a decade.
Among 26 recommendations, the paper sets out a radical new blueprint for economic transformation – using growth to reduce and eventually end deep poverty across Scotland.
1. On growth – it calls on the UK and Scottish Governments to simplify the confusing array of public funds currently on offer to business, and create a new unified Scottish Development Fund capable of making ‘big bets’ on key areas of exporting strength.
2. On skills – it backs the creation of “S-Levels”, a new technical qualification designed around Scotland’s regional industrial strengths to provide a pipeline of talent to growth sectors.
3. On welfare, – it proposes a new Scottish Work Programme to support 75,000 people currently unemployed back into the labour market
4. On poverty – it says that up to £2bn could be made available within a parliament, from extra revenues or welfare savings, to provide more generous benefits for families in destitution and for those who cannot work.
The report concludes: “Within just a few years, we can radically reduce – perhaps eliminating altogether – absolute child poverty in Scotland, funded through the proceeds of growth. Within a decade, we want to achieve a goal around which all Scots can unite: to make Scotland Britan’s first poverty-free nation. In a generation, we can break entrenched inequalities and build the social democratic Scotland the public demands.”
Writing in the foreword to the report today, Mr Brown comments:
“Scotland needs a plan. We are stuck in a low-growth rut. We need a decade of delivery to transform our economic model and give people hope of a less divided, more prosperous society, turning Scotland into a post-poverty nation.”
“This report today sets out our ideas on how to do so. At its heart, it sets out a vision for a new industrial sector strategy in Scotland – with a plan to radically reform the way we support innovation, research and development, skills, and investment that, together, can create a stronger economy.”
“It argues that the growth rates we saw in the early part of this century – of 2.5% – are achievable again. It shows the prize of doing so: 300,000 new jobs – made up of 40,000 jobs each coming from new green energy; from advanced manufacturing and precision medicine; and from knowledge-intensive service jobs, such as the gaming sector in Dundee – plus a further 180,000 jobs that come from a boom in services and the supply chain that would follow.”
“In addition, the report shows how higher growth would help us get 100,000 people currently in poverty-pay into higher paid work. It also proposes how, by using the proceeds of growth to rebuild our social safety net, we could create a new Scottish Work Programme and reform our Skills Infrastructure to get 150,000 Scots currently either unemployed or inactive back into paid work.”
He concludes: “Think of what we can achieve when we come together. We can avoid a descent into a zero-sum society, which declares that for us to win, others must lose. We can build instead a culture of win-win where, through collaboration, cooperation and solidarity with one another, we can construct a society from which all of us gain. A decade of delivery is possible – and with this report, we urge our political leaders to seize that opportunity.”
The report’s findings are based on modelling which examines the kind of growth rates that Scotland could achieve over the coming decade. It argues that raising growth to 2.5% is ambitious but achievable – if both UK and Scottish Governments work together by boosting growth in five high growth sectors: green manufacturing and energy; digital tech, professional business services, life sciences, and premium food and drink.
The report argues that the Scottish Government should be able to keep any up front savings to the welfare budget to re-invest in anti-poverty measures and skills.
In a call to all political parties ahead of next year’s general election, it says that such an ambitious plan to restore growth is now essential given the crisis in Scotland’s public services, currently forecast to be short of £2bn by 2028.
The report concludes: “We risk nothing less than the fracturing of Scottish society; a “two nations” Scotland made up of middle-income earners and the destitute. This is the future we are facing without growth. It is one all political parties must work to avoid.”