The RT Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP

  • "Scotland’s Green New Deal: a £3bn package of investments to attract green finance, create jobs and lift living standards"

Commentary by The RT Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP,
First Minister of Scotland

Thank you for the opportunity to be part of this valued publication. I am especially pleased to see, once again, a whole chapter dedicated to Scottish businesses.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are indeed major contributors to the Scottish economy. In 2019, SMEs operating in Scotland accounted for more than 99% of all private sector businesses, providing around 1.2 million jobs. Of course, I’m very conscious of the tremendous impact on those businesses of the COVID-19 pandemic. To help illustrate: right at the start of the pandemic, we established a special helpline offering access to finance and expertise through our economic development agencies. At the peak of the crisis, this helpline managed 2,500 calls per day. This compares to previous typical levels of around 40.

We have also been grateful for FindBusinessSupport.Gov.Scot, a facility that aims to ensure that all products and services offered by our public agencies are available and visible through one point of entry. This of course has offered a very useful means of sharing the latest advice and details of support for businesses during the pandemic. Aiding the survival of Scotland’s businesses has clearly been paramount. Which is why we have offered a support package totalling £2.3bn. This includes a £972m package of rates relief and other Non-Domestic Rates Income measures; Grant Schemes worth over £1bn; and a £185m additional support fund.

At the same time we have also kept a keen eye on the future strength and resilience of the Scottish economy, especially on the businesses that will create jobs and spur our renewed economic growth. Hence our continued support for prestigious programmes like the Scottish EDGE Fund, which offers awards of up to £150,000 to some of our most dynamic early-stage businesses. The record number of applications to the reopened competition underpins how the Scottish entrepreneurial spirit has by no means dampened as a result of the present crisis.

Meanwhile, we have also launched a comprehensive £38m package of support for innovative early stage businesses whose routes to investment and growth have been hampered by coronavirus. The package is the result of insight gathered through direct engagement with partners and companies operating in the early-stage high-growth market. Initiatives of this kind will help to stimulate, and indeed shape, Scotland’s economic recovery.

Equally important in that respect will be the establishment of the Scottish National Investment Bank. Due to be operational by the end of 2020, the Bank will be at the forefront of shaping an economy with fair work, inclusive growth and net-zero emissions at its heart. Supporting the transition to net-zero will be the Bank’s primary mission as part of Scotland’s Green New Deal: a £3bn package of investments to attract green finance, create jobs and lift living standards.

For centuries, Scotland has been at the forefront of transformational change thanks to our talent, expertise and ambition. Now, as we face down one of the greatest global crises of modern times, we are determined to build on that heritage – along with other key advantages such as a skilled workforce, lower living costs and high quality of life. That is why we are taking such pains to support our investors, entrepreneurs and businesses through this challenging time.