SNP's economic policy under fire as growth flatlines

Scotland's growth continues to lag behind the rest of the UK. Pic: John Devlin
Scotland's growth continues to lag behind the rest of the UK. Pic: John Devlin

The Fraser of Allander (FAI) Institute says there is a “confusing and cluttered” approach to boosting the country’s GDP.

When the SNP came to power in 2007, it pledged to cut public sector bureaucracy by creating one single, overarching economic Strategy.

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But since then ministers have created 23 separate strategies in sectors from food and drink to textiles, overseen by dozens of different government agencies and advisory boards.

FAI director Professor Graeme Roy said: “The past decade has seen a proliferation of different strategies, advisory groups and bodies which have arguably cluttered the policy and delivery landscape.

“Whilst many will no doubt have improved Scotland’s economic performance, do we know which ones?

“ Is such a structure the most effective way to support the economy in a country of Scotland’s size?

“The risk with such an approach is that it can lead to confusion, a lack of alignment, duplication and weakened accountability.

“It also makes evaluating what actually works all the more difficult.

“Strategies and advisory groups are no substitute for good policy delivery based on evidence, data and impact.

“Rediscovering a unified vision for the economy which aligns all policies and organisations might just be the most significant and effective step the Scottish Government could take in 2018.”

Scotland’s economy grew at a rate of 0.6 per cent over the past year, compared with 1.7 per cent across the UK.

The FAI’s forecast for growth remains unchanged on the last Economic Commentary, with 1.2 per cent predicted for 2018 and 1.4 per cent for 2019 and 2020.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are supporting business and continuing to grow Scotland’s already strong economy by focusing on investment, internationalisation, innovation and inclusive growth. These key areas remain increasingly relevant for policymaking in current economic conditions.

“Brexit is the biggest threat facing the Scottish economy and it is vital that the UK government commits to remaining in EU single market.”