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Scottish Growth Scheme

– in the Scottish Parliament on 6th September 2017.

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Photo of Elizabeth Smith Elizabeth Smith Conservative

7. To ask the Scottish Government how the economy and jobs are being supported through initiatives such as the Scottish growth scheme. (S5O-01211)

Photo of Keith Brown Keith Brown Scottish National Party

As the First Minister set out in the programme for government yesterday, the Scottish Government continues to take action across a range of areas to support the Scottish economy and jobs. The Scottish growth scheme supports the economy and jobs by providing access to finance for companies that want to fund growth and export expansion. We launched the first product under the scheme—the Scottish-European growth co-investment programme—on 16 June. It is a £200 million initiative that brings together investment from the Scottish Government through Scottish Enterprise, from the European Investment Fund and from private sector fund managers. We expect to make announcements about further products shortly.

Photo of Elizabeth Smith Elizabeth Smith Conservative

The Government launched the Scottish growth scheme a year ago and trumpeted it as a £500 million vote of confidence in Scottish business. However, just a couple of weeks ago,

The Sunday Times reported that the scheme has yet to pay out cash to any business. Will the cabinet secretary confirm when cash from the scheme will actually be made available to Scottish business?

Photo of Keith Brown Keith Brown Scottish National Party

The finance that I mentioned is being made available now, but there are other parties allocating that cash, some of which we are in discussion with, and they are part of the process. That will also depend on the nature of the application and what further work is to be done for it.

It is positive that we are making the finance available. It adds confidence in the Scottish economy and is partly why, for example, gross domestic product is growing in Scotland at four times the rate of that in the rest of the United Kingdom. I would like to hear what the Scottish Tories have to say to the UK Government about how it must up its game to match what we are doing in Scotland in terms of GDP and growth.

It is important that we continue to provide such measures, and the growth scheme is important. I say to Liz Smith that applicants are engaging with the Scottish Government to access the funding, but we have to go through the diligence process. As soon as we have done that, we will make the information available to Parliament.

Photo of Willie Rennie Willie Rennie Liberal Democrat

The Scottish growth scheme was announced with great urgency last year. Is the cabinet secretary saying that money has been given out from the scheme? That is not what I understand to be the case. Will he clarify the situation? Has money been spent or has it not?

Photo of Keith Brown Keith Brown Scottish National Party

If Willie Rennie had listened to my answer, he would have heard me say that we are engaging with applicants to the fund, which takes time. The process will also depend on the applicants themselves.

It is unfortunate that Willie Rennie takes his cue these days from the Conservatives in refusing to acknowledge the benefits to the Scottish economy of things such as the new bridge to Fife. I thought that he might have been interested in that, as it has been contributing to growth in Scotland. It would be good if he acknowledged such things from time to time instead of hanging on to the coat tails of the Tories, which seems to be his preferred method of operation.