BOOSTING Scotland’s economy can go hand in hand with efforts to create a fairer society, the Deputy First Minister has insisted.
John Swinney stressed the Scottish Government would work with businesses, trade unions, the voluntary sector and others to “create a wealthier and fairer society where the benefits of economic growth are shared more equally”.
He added that this would help ensure that “future economic growth is stronger and more sustainable as a result”.
The Deputy First Minister, who is also the Scottish Finance Secretary, spoke out ahead of a Holyrood debate on the economy.
Mr Swinney is also today visiting Edinburgh company Rabbie’s Tours to discover how ensuring all its staff are paid the Living Wage had helped develop the business.
The Deputy First Minister said: “It is well understood that a strong economy is essential to building a fair and wealthy society. However, the reverse is also true. A society that is fair and equitable underpins a strong economy.
“The challenge we face is not simply returning to pre-recession levels of growth, but tackling the underlying challenges in our economy and labour market, boosting competitiveness and reducing inequality.
“The Scottish Government’s approach will continue to be based on the principle that delivering sustainable economic growth and addressing long-standing inequalities are reinforcing - and not competing - objectives. Promoting a fairer, more balanced model of growth and creating economic opportunity across society as a whole are key objectives of this government.”
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He added: “One way of achieving this goal is for more companies to pay staff the Living Wage. A large number of companies, like Rabbie’s, already recognise that progressive employment and social policies are beneficial to their long term businesses success as well as supporting the wider society.
“Paying the living wage isn’t simply good for individuals it is also good for companies. It helps to increase staff retention, reduce absenteeism and enhance businesses reputation.”
Mr Swinney continued: “Expanding the number of companies signing up to the living wage is critical to tackling in-work poverty and is a key priority for this government.
“We will maintain a supportive business environment; we’ll continue to invest in infrastructure; we’ll support entrepreneurship and innovation; and we will encourage those business that wish to export and will promote Scottish products all across the globe.
“And importantly, we will work with business, trade unions and third sector organisations across Scotland to create a wealthier and fairer society where the benefits of economic growth are shared more equally; ensuring that future economic growth is stronger and more sustainable as a result. “
Robin Worsnop, the founder and chief executive of Rabbie’s Tours, said: “Rabbie’s is constantly looking to attract great people to come and work for us as we grow our business rapidly.
“Until last year a small number of our team were earning less than the living wage and we took the strategic decision to ensure all our team were on living wage or more. This makes our recruitment and management processes simpler and more cost effective as we attract great people who want to work for a great organisation.”
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