Scottish investment bank at heart of Sturgeon’s legislative plan

5 Sep 18

A major boost to capital spending and legislation to establish a publicly owned investment bank will be at the core of the Scottish Government’s plans for the coming year.

Announcing 12 new bills to be introduced in the new parliamentary session, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said the new programme for government was designed to build Scotland’s economy, encourage innovation and tackle inequality.

She committed to invest an additional £7bn in schools, hospitals, transport, digital connectivity and clean energy by 2026 in order to reach what she described as Scotland’s most ambitious ever long-term level of infrastructure spend.   

Details of how this pledge would be funded would be set out over the coming months, she said.

However, she hinted at new funding models, saying that in addition to traditional capital and borrowing, new profit-sharing finance schemes, such as the Welsh Government’s mutual investment model, would be considered.

Legislation to underpin the new Scottish National Investment Bank would also be brought before Parliament in the coming year, Sturgeon said.

The bank, for which an implementation plan was set out earlier this year, will provide finance for companies and infrastructure projects, forming “a cornerstone of the high-innovation, low carbon economy”, she added.

An export growth plan will invest £20m in helping firms increase overseas activity, while a fair work plan will see payment of the living wage, gender pay transparency and the exclusion of zero-hour contracts become conditions for business support.

Sturgeon also confirmed that the new Social Security Agency would make its first payments before Christmas, six months ahead of schedule.

She said the Scottish Government would prioritise young people’s mental health by investing in dedicated mental health counsellors and extra training for teachers as well as additional school nurses.

Headteachers would be given new powers to become decision makers in their schools and, in partnership with local government, 750 new, extended or refurbished nurseries would be developed to deliver the Scottish Government's commitment to double free childcare hours.

Finally, the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child would be incorporated into Scots law.

Sturgeon said the programme would be impacted by Brexit, but not defined by it.

“Instead it sets out how we intend to deliver on our vision of a healthier, wealthier and fairer Scotland,” she said.

"It ensures that we remain focused on delivering for today and investing for tomorrow.”

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson supported action to boost exports and invest in mental health but accused the government of failing to deliver on previous promises.

“Too much time has already been squandered,” she said. “It is a time for action and deeds, it is a time to stop chasing headlines and get on with delivery.”

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