Swinney spends £105m to try to kickstart economy

A £105 MILLION package of measures to boost the Scottish economy has been unveiled by finance secretary John Swinney.

A £105 MILLION package of measures to boost the Scottish economy has been unveiled by finance secretary John Swinney.

The Scottish Government said each of the capital projects would be taken forward quickly to “deliver the maximum economic impact”. The list includes £22m for renewables and low-carbon initiatives, as well as £35m for housing.

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“The Scottish Government is maximising the value of every public pound available as we take forward our programmes to support economic recovery and deliver high-quality, efficient public services,” Mr Swinney said.

“While these projects will support and stimulate economic growth, they will also deliver on a range of wider objectives such as environmental and health improvement, housing, greener transport, maintenance of our health estate, and culture and tourism.

“We are also focusing our support on local economies and in key geographical areas.”

The money comes from £79m of funds not spent in last year’s budget and carried over, as well as cash from the fossil fuel levy for renewables, and further funding brought forward from future budgets.

Affordable housing gets an extra £35m, which the Scottish Government says will deliver 650 new homes and help revitalise the construction industry.

As well as that, £15m will be accelerated for maintenance work in the health service and £10m will be used to improve infrastructure and boost enterprise in Forres, Moray, which was hit by the closure of RAF Kinloss.

An upgrade for the A75 between Hardgrove and Kinmount in south-west Scotland was also confirmed by Mr Swinney.

Renewables and low-carbon initiatives will get £22m, some of which will be used for more environmentally friendly buses via the Green Bus Fund.

The Scottish Government has repeatedly urged Westminster to find extra cash for infrastructure projects in Scotland, but said ministers at Holyrood “looked again at what we can do to encourage growth”.

The new economic stimulus shows that the SNP administration is acting to “secure the future of this country in the face of Westminster economic neglect”, he said.

The move was welcomed by business organisations last night.

“This is exactly what is needed in the Scottish economy right now,” said Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.

“We believe that this ought to send a signal to the UK government that more is needed at that level too in terms of investment in the kind of capital projects that will create and sustain jobs, as well as boost Scotland’s longer-term economic potential.”

CBI Scotland assistant director David Lonsdale added: “Bringing forward planned capital expenditure is a positive move at this challenging time for the economy.”

But Labour’s Ken Macintosh was sceptical, saying: “John Swinney’s announcements are fine words, but we will need to wait and see whether those words translate into real jobs for Scots.

“The SNP has accepted our long-standing call to begin work on improving the A75, but there are many others that are ready to go and are much-needed. They remain waiting even after today’s announcement.”