Scots economy flatlines with 'few signs' of pick-up

Scotland's economy has flatlined in opening months of the year with industry leaders warning the post-Brexit future brings little hope of any improvement.

Picture: TSPL

The latest GDP statistics show 0% growth between January and March as Scottish and UK growth diverge even further prompting fresh concerns over the fragile state of the economy north of the border.

Opposition parties are calling on Nicola Sturgeon to forget a second referendum and “focus on the day job.”

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

UK growth in the same period between January and March was 0.4 per cent.

Better news for the economy in Scotland was a fall in unemployment of 18,000 between March and May 2016, but the rate if still 0.6% above the UK level.

Liz Cameron of the Scottish Chamber of Commerce said: “Scotland’s growth has now been at a fraction of that of the UK as a whole for a full year and there are few signs of a major improvement in sight. In the light of the EU referendum result, the Scottish and UK Governments must take all steps necessary to support businesses at this time and help them to invest for the future and get our economy back on the path of growth.”

Annual growth from the first quarter of 2015 to the same period this year showed the Scottish economy grew by 0.6 per cent. Equivalent UK growth was 2.0 per cent.

Andy Willox, the FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “These pre-referendum figures demonstrate that the Scottish economy was underperforming before the vote. While a decline in unemployment is good news, there’s a worrying gap between the UK and Scottish jobless rates.

“Business surveys and feedback suggest that some investment plans and deals have been put on hold as a consequence of recent economic and political turbulence.

“As Number 10 and Bute House draw up plans to restore business confidence, they must think about community firms as well as the stock market.”

The Scottish Government business minister Paul Wheelhouse said the jobless figures show there are 61,000 more people employed now than at the pre-recession high point.

He said: “The Scottish economy has strong fundamentals, but as businesses face uncertainty during negotiations over our future relationship with the EU, we will not only work hard to protect Scotland’s relationship with the EU, but will strive to make the most of current and future opportunities in our economy as set out in our economic strategy.”

But Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles said: “Scotland’s economy is flat lining on the SNP’s watch. The hard truth facing the First Minister is that we are falling behind the rest of the UK and face an uncertain outlook after the Brexit vote.”

He added: “Since the result of the referendum all we have heard from the SNP is talk of a second independence drive instead of concrete action to support our economy, the First Minister really does need to get back to the day job and start addressing these economic issues directly.”

DOWNLOAD THE SCOTSMAN APP ON ITUNES OR GOOGLE PLAY