Westminster Urged To Increase Capital Spending After Brexit Vote

20 September 2016, 08:09 | Updated: 20 September 2016, 09:30

Economy Secretary Keith Brown has urged the Treasury to increase capital spending to help boost growth in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union (EU).

Mr Brown called on the UK Government to emulate the £100 million capital spending pledge announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last month.

He said an increase in UK infrastructure spending of £5 billion could provide an extra £400 million spend in Scotland, supporting about 3,000 jobs.

Mr Brown also called for the Treasury to do more to support exporting companies to take advantage of the depreciation of Sterling.

MSPs are due to debate the Scottish Government's capital stimulus package at Holyrood later.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Mr Brown said: "The Scottish Government has acted swiftly to support the economy following the UK-wide vote to leave the EU by bringing forward an additional £100 million of capital investment, setting out plans for a £500 million Scottish growth scheme to support businesses and working hard to secure Scotland's continued place in the EU.

"We haven't seen the same action forthcoming at a UK level - where clarity on Brexit remains completely absent. However, there are actions the Treasury could take as a matter of urgency to help our businesses.

"Primary among them is increased capital spending that would allow us to build on our own stimulus package, protecting and creating jobs.

"Further support for exports at a UK level would also help us add to what we are already doing in this area in Scotland and nurture increased growth.

"I am calling for the Treasury to take this action as a clear plan for how the UK Government can help at this critical juncture for our economy.

"Last week's employment figures show our unemployment rate is now lower than the UK as a whole. But a failure to act at a UK level could put that really encouraging progress in jeopardy.

"Our priority will continue to be protecting our economy while also working to preserve our EU membership and access to the single market.

"I hope the UK Government will act to support our efforts - in the Autumn Statement as a minimum, but ideally in shorter order than that.''

The Scottish Conservatives will call on the SNP to focus on making Brexit a success for Scotland, particularly in relation to fishing, farming and tourism, rather than pursuing another referendum on independence.

Finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said: "We know that the fishing industry sees a great future outside the EU but what is the Scottish Government doing to help develop this?

"And what is it doing to develop a new farming policy for Scotland, given that support payments will have to be paid domestically?

"The same goes for the future of exports and tourism too, not to mention a number of other sectors.

"Yet rather than take these forward, rather than be positive about the future, all the SNP wants to do is sit on the sidelines and complain.''

A UK government spokesman said: "Scotland benefits from being part of a strong, stable, and broad-shouldered United Kingdom.

"Due to the strength of the UK economy, there are 194,000 more people in work in Scotland compared to 2010 - and thanks to UK government, the Scottish government will have 14% or £1.9 billion more to invest in Scottish infrastructure via the block grant by 2021.

"The benefits of the UK government's commitment to the Scottish economy are there for all to see and shouldn't be put in doubt through the uncertainty of a second referendum.''