Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to make Scotland “open for business” as she unveiled SNP plans to for major investment in Scotland’s connectivity and business support.
Today sees the handover of the Steel works at Dalzell and Clydebridge from Tata to Liberty House and the SNP leader unveiled five key pledges for Scottish businesses:
• Support small businesses by protecting the Small Business Bonus scheme for lifetime of next Parliament, which reduces or eliminates rates for 2,396 North Ayrshire businesses.
• Boost Scotland’s connectivity by ensuring 95% of properties can access superfast broadband by next year and 100% by 2021, including the least accessible.
• Reduce Air Passenger Duty - one of the highest taxes of its kind in the world - to boost Scotland’s international connectivity and support tourist industry, creating 3,800 jobs in the process and injecting £1,000 million into the Scottish economy.
• Triple the number of export advisers in Scotland, fund new Innovation and Investment Hubs in London, Dublin and Brussels, to attract inward investment and help companies and academia access new markets and investors.
• Invest in the skills industry needs by increasing apprenticeships in engineering, design and technology.
Ms Sturgeon praised the immense underlying strengths of Scotland’s economy and said that this election was about choosing the best Government to harness these strengths, build on traditional industries and support all business, large and small.
Commenting, she said:
“Scotland has many underlying economic strengths – our highly educated workforce, our immense natural resources and thriving industries like energy, life sciences and tourism.
“We also have a track record of invention, ingenuity, design and skilled craftsmanship that will support our economy in the months and years ahead.
“Under the SNP, Scotland has the most competitive business tax environment in the UK, the number of registered businesses is at an all-time high, and we are consistently ranked in the top two regions and nations outside London for foreign direct investment.
“We want to build on these strengths, and the SNP will use all of the powers available to us, both existing and new, to help all our businesses thrive, boosting employment and prosperity.
“Our Small Business Bonus Scheme has supported small and medium sized businesses through some tough economic times, and today I am giving them the certainty that we will guarantee this relief for the lifetime of the next Parliament.
“A major priority of the next SNP Government will be to improve Scotland’s connectivity and increase inward investment.
“Air Passenger Duty doesn’t make sense, damages our economy and will be halved and then ultimately abolished.
“With new powers coming to the Scottish Parliament, this election is the most important since devolution – and the SNP is the only party with the ideas and ambition to help Scotland’s businesses thrive.”
Key SNP achievements supporting business: • We have established the most competitive business tax environment in the UK – with a package of reliefs worth £618m for 2015/16. The Small Business Bonus Scheme has removed or reduced taxation for over 99,000 premises this year.
• We have presided over the Scottish economy experiencing its longest period of uninterrupted growth since 2001.
• The value of Scotland’s international exports has increased by around 38% between 2007 and 2014 (from £20 billion to £27.5 billion).
• The Ernst & Young Attractiveness Survey has found that since 2007 when the SNP came to office, Scotland has been ranked in the top nations and regions outside London for Direct Inward Investment.