Independence will equip Scotland for the first time ever with a fully-powered economic policy aimed at putting job creation in Scotland first, the Scottish Government says. Published today, A Jobs Plan for an Independent Scotland sets out a long-term, ten-point jobs plan for an independent Scotland.
The paper aims to show how, with control of economic and tax policy – ‘and – crucially – by bringing business, unions, government, and other partners together – we can build on Scotland’s strengths and create more and better job opportunities.’
The aim is to create the conditions where everyone able to work has the opportunity to do so.
Commenting on the plan, Finance Secretary John Swinney said: “Independence is a once in a lifetime chance to shift the balance of opportunity in Scotland’s favour – equipping our country with the powers we need to build secure, stable and rewarding employment for everyone who lives here.
“Independence is not a magic wand but the plan we have published today shows how future governments of an independent Scotland could tailor economic policy to put job creation first and deliver a long-term employment boost. With the right policies in place we could achieve full employment – giving our businesses a competitive edge and incentives to create more and better jobs here in Scotland.
“Few, if any, countries in the world, have the economic potential of Scotland. We have a talented and skilled workforce, world-leading universities, a modern college sector and a successful modern apprenticeship system.
“We have a strong international reputation for producing quality goods and services with notable success in sectors such as food and drink, the creative industries, life sciences and modern manufacturing.
“Our natural and energy resources are unrivalled: in 2012 we produced nearly six times our oil demand and we have huge renewable energy potential.
“With the limited powers of devolution Scotland’s economic performance has improved but far too many Scots still feel they have to leave each year to get a job or further their career.
“Of course many people will always want to travel and work elsewhere – but that must be a choice and not a requisite for those looking to succeed.
“With independence our economic policy would be tailored precisely to our own needs – for example in order to resist the gravitational pull of London, we would be able to cut the headline corporation tax rate by up three per cent which could boost employment by up to 27,000 jobs.
“The gains of independence will only happen if we work hard and use policy wisely. But what is clear is that no-one else is better placed to take decisions about the Scottish economy than the people who live, work and run businesses here.”
The Scottish Government has previously set out how improvements in productivity, employment and population could lead to additional tax revenues of £5 billion a year by 2029-30. The jobs plan will contribute to that increase by:
• Creating an education and training environment to equip our young people to fulfil their potential, with a target of 30,000 Modern Apprenticeship starts per year by 2020;
• Controlling the tax system to provide incentives for companies to base their operations and headquarters in Scotland and create jobs. A three per cent cut in the headline corporation tax rate, in part to resist the gravitational pull of London, could boost employment by 27,000 jobs;
• Using employment policy to bring together employers and unions to boost workforce participation, skills and productivity, in place of the UK Government’s confrontational approach. Boosting productivity by just 1 per cent could increase employment in Scotland by 21,000 jobs over the long term;
• Tailoring policy to boost key job-creating sectors in which Scotland has an international comparative advantage, such as renewable energy;
• Reindustrialising Scotland with a focus on strengthening manufacturing, promoting innovation and encouraging international trade and development;
• Boosting infrastructure and transport by establishing a rule which sets a minimum level for public sector capital spending as a percentage of GDP;
• Establishing a Scottish Business Development Bank as part of a strategy to improve access to finance for growth companies;
• Using a new overseas network of 70-90 embassies dedicated to boosting Scottish international exports. In the long-run a 50 per cent increase in exports could increase employment by over 100,000;
• Increasing opportunities for parents of young families to participate in the labour market by expanding childcare.
• Tailoring immigration policy to retain talented overseas students who want to contribute to the Scottish economy.
Opponents of independence argue that the ten-point plan has no credibility; they say that until the government provides an answer on what Scotland’s currency will be, then savings, pensions, mortgages, rents and jobs are at risk as the government’s economic plans are based on ‘guesswork.’