Scottish economy ‘back at pre-recession levels’

Finance Secretary John Swinney welcomed the 'encouraging' figures. Picture: Andrew Cowan
Finance Secretary John Swinney welcomed the 'encouraging' figures. Picture: Andrew Cowan
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SCOTLAND’S economy is back performing at pre-recession levels, a new survey of businesses has suggested.

The latest figures for company turnover in the Bank of Scotland Business Monitor are the best results for almost seven years.

Almost half of the businesses surveyed (46 per cent) said they had seen their turnover rise in the three months up to the end of May, while 36 per cent said their turnover had stayed the same and 18 per cent experienced a decrease.

When the proportion of firms who saw turnover fall is subtracted from those who saw a rise, the survey gives a net balance for turnover of +28.

This was described as a “robust rise” from the +18 in the previous quarter and a “substantial improvement” on the performance a year ago, when the net balance was -8.

The report said: “This is the best result in almost seven years and returns the net balance figure to pre-recession levels of quarter three 2007.”

Companies in both the service sector and the production sector saw improvements in this area.

For the service sector the net balance of turnover was +29 for the period March to May, which compares to +20 in the previous quarter and -10 a year ago.

The production sector had a net balance of turnover of +25, up from +16 in the previous three months and well up on the balance of -5 from 2013.

The survey of 408 businesses also showed the recovery in export activity had been maintained over the period March to May this year.

More than a quarter (27 per cent) of firms surveyed said exports activity had increased in this period, while 60 per cent said it was static and 13 per cent reported a fall.

This gives a net balance for export activity of +14, which is up slightly from the performance of +12 which was reported both in the last quarter and a year ago.

Almost half (47 per cent) of firms who were questioned expect their total volume of business to increase in the six months between May and November, while 46 per cent expect to see turnover grow and 31 per cent believe exports will rise over this period.

Bank of Scotland chief economist Donald MacRae said: “The surge in economic activity identified in summer 2013 has been maintained into summer this year. Expectations are at their highest level since mid-2007, suggesting the recovery will continue throughout 2014. Further increases in investment by firms would enhance the recovery.”

Finance Secretary John Swinney said: “These encouraging figures show continued improvement in the Scottish economy, with the Business Monitor showing the economy is now performing at levels not seen since the recession and business expectations for the next six months remaining at levels last seen in 2007.

“There are grounds for optimism with a higher balance of firms than at any point in almost seven years reporting an increase in turnover.

“These figures add to the recent positive news on employment, inward investment, tourism and manufacturing - all of which show the Scottish economy performing well as we emerge from the recession.”