Nicola Sturgeon makes case for tackling inequality during China visit

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has outlined the case for tackling inequality through inclusive growth as she continued her five-day visit to China.

She told an economic conference in Shanghai that “poverty and inequality - as well as being morally unacceptable - are also deeply economically damaging”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Ms Sturgeon delivered the keynote address entitled ‘prosperity through economic growth’ at the Shanghai Economist Summit, attended by business leaders, industry figures and academics.

Earlier, she had a “constructive discussion” with Chinese vice premier Hu Chunhua.

She said: “Poverty and inequality - as well as being morally unacceptable - are also deeply economically damaging.

“OECD researchers estimated that between 1990 and 2010, rising income inequality in the UK reduced our economic output per head by nine percentage points - that’s approximately £1,600 for everyone in the country.

“Low incomes reduce aggregate demand and restrict the tax revenues needed for investment in infrastructure and education.

“Unequal economies are also less resilient - they are more likely to depend on borrowing and credit, which means their growth is less likely to be sustainable.

“If we are to make the most of our potential in the 21st century we will have to do more to maximise opportunities for all - regardless of gender or background.”

She said the Scottish Government has been trying to “take a lead” in inclusive growth.

The First Minister highlighted Scottish Government steps to promote a fairer economy, including bringing in the real living wage for public sector workers and encouraging the private sector to do likewise.

“There is growing interest around the world in promoting inclusive growth; growth which everyone has a fair chance to contribute to, and from which everyone in society can benefit,” she said.

“In 2015, when we revised our Economic Strategy, we ensured that it focused jointly on increasing competitiveness and tackling inequality. The two can and must go together.”