By Bruce Crawford MSP
Today the annual GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) figures have been released and again what we see is Scotland’s strong and growing economy. We have seen the total revenue reach an amazing £62.7 billion in the year 2018-19 with onshore revenue growing by £3 billion. This has been the fastest growth since 2010-11 and shows the amazing strength of the Scottish economy. It is important to remember however that the figures presented in the report also includes UK government spending in Scotland including allocated funds to Scotland for areas like Trident nuclear weapons and high speed rail HS2 (which is planned to only come as far north as Leeds). Other reserved areas are included in these figures such as defence which the Scottish Government has no control over.
This is good news for people here in the Stirling area, and across Scotland. People and businesses in Stirling will benefit hugely from our strong economy. Scotland’s deficit is also falling at a faster rate than anywhere else in the UK as a result of the strength of the Scottish economy. For Stirling, we could see more money coming into the local economy improving jobs, investment and living standards.
Our success is in large part due to our relationship with other EU countries; the fastest growing market for Scottish goods is the rest of the EU. The current UK Government’s Brexit plan poses a huge risk to that success. Brexit is a threat jobs, investment and living standards to people across the UK, Scotland and right here in the Stirling area. Brexit could see Scotland’s revenue fall by £2.5 billion per year, and the choice between leaving with or without a deal is similar to choosing between a disaster and a catastrophe.
Ultimately, today’s GERS figures underline the need for independence. The UK Government continues to make key economic decisions which are bad for Scotland – leaving the European Union being the most prominent of those today. An independent Scotland will have the ability to make our own decisions in the interest of our country.
Scotland has a strong, growing economy and our future will be far brighter and prosperous with independence in Europe.
The Scottish Government’s Small Business Bonus Scheme provided £5,498,000 of support for businesses across the Stirling area in 2017/18 – an £33.6 rise on the previous year.
The Small Business Bonus Scheme, delivered by the SNP in 2008/09, supports local firms by reducing their rates liability or taking firms out of business rates altogether.
With businesses across Scotland receiving a total support relief of £5.5 million last year, SNP MSP Bruce Crawford has said the Scottish Government’s commitment to local jobs and communities across the Stirling area is clear.
Commenting, local SNP MSP Bruce Crawford said:
“These figures prove the success of the Small Business Bonus Scheme for firms across Stirling.
“Stirling businesses have benefitted from a massive £5.5 million in rates support in the past year, providing stability for local jobs and communities and giving firms that valuable headroom to grow and thrive.
“While Labour and the Tories have no credible plans between them, the SNP is getting on with the job – creating a better business environment in the Stirling area, boosting employment and creating a business environment where local companies can flourish.”
SNP MSP for Stirling, Bruce Crawford, has welcome Stirling Council’s funding allocation from the Scottish Government’s £50 million Town Centre Fund.
Announced by SNP Finance Secretary Derek Mackay during his budget statement, the new fund aims to drive local economic growth by helping town centres fund projects such as re-purposing buildings for retail, business and community enterprise, while improving access and infrastructure.
After allocations were announced this week by the Scottish Government, it has now been confirmed that Stirling Council will receive £1,077,000 from the new ring-fenced fund.
Commenting, SNP MSP Bruce Crawford said:
“This funding announcement can help transform town centres in the Stirling area, such as Stirling, Callander, Bannockburn and Balfron.
“The health of our town centres is vital to the economic and cultural life of our communities – and this new investment can make a real difference.
“Stirling Council is now able to ensure that our share of the Scottish Government’s grant for town centres is spent wisely so that local communities reap the benefits of this huge investment.
“The SNP’s Town Centre Fund is part of a wider package of business support measures that will help drive economic activity in the Stirling area, helping give our local high streets a welcome boost.”
A total of 2,670 businesses across the Stirling area have benefitted from rates relief through the Small Business Bonus Scheme.
The total number was revealed in the Scottish Parliament last week when Stirling SNP MSP Bruce Crawford asked for an update on the number of businesses which pay no rates at all through the scheme.
The Scottish Government has pledged to lift 100,000 small businesses out of paying non-domestic rates by the end of this parliamentary term.
Responding to Mr Crawford’s question, Public Finances Minister Kate Forbes said:
“as at 1 June 2018, 2,670 business premises were lifted out of paying rates altogether by the scheme in the Stirling Council area. Since the small business bonus scheme was introduced by this Government, it has saved premises in Stirling nearly £39 million.”
Commenting, Mr Crawford said:
“This is great news for local small businesses, which are the backbone of our local economy here in the Stirling area.
“These are challenging times economically, and the fact that 2,670 small businesses have been lifted out of paying non-domestic rates is a real shot in the arm for the Stirling economy.
“In total, Stirling businesses have saved £39 million through this Scheme – which is the best rates package in the UK. In this year alone, the Scottish Government has invested £5.8 million in lifting Stirling’s small businesses out of paying rates.
“Local businesses will not forgive Tory MSPs, who have indicated already that they intend to vote against this hugely beneficial package for small businesses.”
Local MSP Bruce Crawford backed small businesses in Stirling at a dedicated session in the Scottish Parliament this week.
At the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) event Mr Crawford exchanged ideas to revive local high streets, talked about plans to reform business rates, and discussed the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Deal
Official figures show that there are 4250 registered businesses in Stirling and almost nine in ten (88.8%) of them are small businesses, with fewer than 50 employees. These firms employ 14630 people and turn over more than £1253 million annually.
Bruce Crawford MSP said:
“Smaller businesses are vitally important to the Stirling economy. Therefore it was great to discuss with the FSB new ways to give these operators a boost.
“FSB highlighted that while many smaller firms continue to power ahead, others are finding trading conditions difficult and have concerns about the future. Politicians like me need to ensure that we give our local enterprises the best opportunity to succeed.”
Hisashi Kuboyama FSB’s Development Manager said:
“As a key local champion, we were pleased to invite Bruce to our event, and cheered by the number of MSPs who gave up their time to talk small business.
“Across Scotland smaller businesses are vital to the success of their local economy and community. Therefore, if we want to develop resilient local economies, then we need to focus on helping them thrive. This means ensuring they get a fair share of public contracts, modernising our rates system and preparing them for Brexit.”
SNP MSP Bruce Crawford has praised new figures showing that Scotland’s economy has outperformed the UK’s in the second quarter of this year.
According to official figures, announced by Scotland’s Chief Statistician, the economy in Scotland grew by 0.5% in the second quarter of 2018 while growth in the UK was at 0.4%.
In the first half of this year, Scottish GDP grew by 0.8% – ahead of the UK at 0.6% over the same period, and already higher than the 0.7% growth forecast by the Scottish Fiscal Committee for 2018 as a whole.
The last year has seen the Scottish economy grow by a total of 1.7%, whilst the UK lags behind on 1.3%.
This growth in Scotland comes as concerns increase over the handling of Brexit negotiations, with Brexit potentially costing the Scottish economy £12.7billion a year – the equivalent of £2,300 for every person in the country.
Bruce Crawford MSP said:
“It is extremely encouraging to see that economic growth in Scotland is exceeding expectations – benefitting people in the Stirling area and across the country.
“These latest figures show the success of the Scottish Government’s approach, focused on building a strong economy, investing in business and enterprise and supporting the industries of the future.
“This success is welcome, but Brexit poses a real threat to Scottish jobs and household incomes – since the European single market is over eight times bigger than the UK market alone.
“Single market membership is absolutely crucial to protecting the jobs, incomes, and hard-won rights of millions of people across Scotland and the UK. The Tories must urgently commit to staying in the single market.”
New stats from business consultancy EY have named Scotland as the second most attractive part of the UK for foreign direct investment (FDI) – after it rose 7% in the last year – proving that SNP-led Scotland is “open for business”, MSP Bruce Crawford has said.
The 2017 survey is the third consecutive year in which Scotland has recorded a new high for investment from abroad – with 116 projects across Scotland identified by EY compared to 108 in 2016. The report has also made clear the threat of Brexit for the Scottish and UK economies – with Paris overtaking London as the most attractive destination to invest in Europe.
The survey also found a 70% increase in research and development projects – naming Scotland as the best performing part of the UK in this area, with 24% of total UK R&D projects happening in Scotland. The Scottish Government is increasing spending on research and development by £45 million over three years from this year.
Commenting, SNP MSP for the Stirling Constituency, Bruce Crawford said:
“This latest survey shows the underlying strength and attractiveness of Scotland’s economy for foreign investors.
“It is clear that people are attracted to invest here in our communities because of our highly skilled workforce and positive environment for businesses to work in – there is no doubt, Scotland is open for business.
“This is the third year in a row in which Scotland has recorded a new high for investment from abroad – up 7% over the year, boosting jobs and local economies across the country.
“And not only that, but Research and Development projects have also seen a 70% increase – with Scotland being the best performing part of the UK – helping secure our place as an attractive place for investors to do business.
“But the report also makes clear the threat that Brexit poses to Scotland’s economy. The only way for us to protect and develop this progress is for the Tories to end their hard Brexit obsession and to keep the UK in the single market and customs union as a minimum to protect jobs and living standards across the country.”