I last discussed the Falkirk growth deal with the Secretary of State for Scotland on 8 March, at the signing of the heads of terms for the Ayrshire growth deal, in Ayr. I encouraged the secretary of state to visit the Falkirk area and commit to a deal for Falkirk as soon as possible.
The secretary of state visited Falkirk and met several partners involved in the Falkirk deal proposal on 17 April. Regrettably, however, the United Kingdom Government has yet to formally commit to a deal.
I am aware that the leader of Falkirk Council, along with other members of the local economic partnership, met the secretary of state last week and impressed on him that any growth deal for Falkirk district would be not just a local deal, but a national deal, given the significant contribution that Grangemouth makes to the Scottish economy.
Given that the gross value added in the Falkirk area in 2018 was £3.3 billion, which was 2 per cent of total national output, and that Falkirk’s large manufacturing sector is forecast to be a key contributor to future economic growth, does the cabinet secretary agree that there is no time to waste in setting up a Falkirk growth deal and that it should be done sooner rather than later?
I agree. There is a need for us to press ahead with the Falkirk growth deal, given the significant contribution that the Falkirk area makes to not just the regional economy, but the national economy of Scotland. I will continue to press the UK Government to commit to a Falkirk growth deal and, when I next meet the Secretary of State for Scotland, I will continue to highlight what I believe to be the huge potential benefits of a growth deal to the Falkirk area and beyond.
As the member will be aware, the Scottish Government has a clear commitment to achieving 100 per cent coverage of Scotland with growth deals, which will deliver real benefits to local communities in the form of new jobs and the wider economic opportunities that that will drive. I will continue to press the UK Government to match our commitment to ensure that we have 100 per cent coverage of growth deals, including in the Falkirk area.