On The Campaign Trail With 3 Weeks To Go

Nicola Sturgeon has promised a "relentless'' focus on boosting the economy and creating jobs if the SNP is elected for a third term in government.

The party leader made the pledge on an election visit to Ferguson's shipyard in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, which was recently saved from closure.

The party said its investment in new hybrid ferries had allowed the shipyard to expand and take on more staff.

Ms Sturgeon said the SNP's economic plan includes fresh support to help businesses expand, a new annual innovation prize, an educational programme aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship in the workplace and investment in apprenticeships, and other support to help young people find work.

The SNP will also triple the number of exporting advisers in Scotland and set up new innovation and investment hubs in London, Dublin and Brussels to attract inward investment and help businesses access new markets.

Ms Sturgeon said: "Scotland's economy has strong foundations - with employment outstripping the rest of the UK, inward investment levels booming and exports increasing - but we are determined to build on the progress we've made in recent years and go even further in boosting our economy and creating more and better jobs.

"One of the key ways we can continue to improve our economic performance is by working to incentivise innovation and boost our productivity - and a re-elected SNP government will put in place a series of ambitious plans to ensure our economy is able to meet its full potential.

"While the SNP in government would guarantee a relentless focus on continuing to improve our economy and create jobs, the other parties' have so far been unable to string a coherent economic plan together - with the Tories continuing to be wedded to George Osborne's austerity plans, and Labour's only idea on the economy seeming to be hiking taxes on low-earners in Scotland.''

But at the other side of the country, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie will campaign outside Amazon's warehouse in Fife in protest at its receipt of over £5 million of Scottish Government grants "despite refusing to pay their tax''.

Mr Rennie will challenge other parties to stop government support going to companies who do not pay their taxes or the living wage to their workers.

He said: "Over the last decade Amazon has received over £5 million of Scottish Government grants despite refusing to pay their tax and refusing to pay their staff the Living Wage. They should not expect to be at the front of the queue for government support.

"Scottish Liberal Democrats will not reward massive corporations for their failures as employers and the other party leaders should join us in standing up for fair employment and fair taxation.''

Elsewhere, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale will pledge that women pensioners will not be worse off under a future Labour Scottish government during a visit to Daffodil pensioners club in Easterhouse, Glasgow.

She said: "The changes being made by the Tory Government will hit thousands of women across Scotland, who over the course of their life have paid into the system and done the right thing. Through no fault of their own they are going to be worse off because of these changes.

"Labour has led the opposition to these cuts at Westminster and we'll carry on fighting to make sure that these women are no worse off, but I'm not going to sit and wait on the Tories to do something when we have the power to act now.

"That's why we'll use the new powers of the Scottish Parliament to top up the pensions of these women and make sure that none of them are worse off. Labour will deliver real change, not warm words.

"Faced with the choice of using the powers of the Scottish Parliament or carrying on with cuts to women's pensions, Labour will use the powers. If the SNP are really serious about helping the thousands of women affected they should back our plan.''

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson will visit New Douglas Park in Hamilton, the home of Hamilton Academical FC, to speak to club officials and discuss manifesto pledges to offer financial incentives to clubs to play young Scottish players.

Scottish Green co-convener Patrick Harvie will meet campaigners, families and children who use North Kelvin Meadows and Children's Wood, in Glasgow, before joining candidate and land reform campaigner Andy Wightman at Cassiltoun Housing Association.

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