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Due to Scottish Enterprise’s success in stimulating a high level of demand for strategic investment, its budget for the current financial year is now fully committed. That actually indicates that Scottish Enterprise has managed its budget well, ensuring that it is maximising spending to support the economy. With anticipated in-year transfers and income, Scottish Enterprise anticipates that its total budget for 2020-21 will be £340 million, which will be used to support key strategic projects, such as advanced manufacturing and the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc, to continue to boost vital investment by companies in research and development and to support company growth. Scottish Enterprise will also provide a range of online advice and support to many more companies than at present.
I fear that the First Minister has been misinformed, because the 2020-21 budget for Scottish Enterprise has been cut by £42 million, which is a cut of almost 17 per cent in comparison with this year’s budget. The consequence is that the budget for grants to businesses next year is already legally committed. There is no new money—nothing at all—for anything new. Given the likely economic impact of Brexit, never mind that of coronavirus, does the First Minister consider that that is a very short-sighted approach? What will she do to provide adequate resources for Scottish Enterprise to support the economy?
We are supporting sustainable, inclusive economic growth and we are doing that with a 13.8 per cent increase in overall economic development budgets, which include those for Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, south of Scotland enterprise and, of course, the new Scottish national investment bank. The resource budget for Scottish Enterprise for the year ahead takes account of, among other things, the significant transfer of resources and functions from Scottish Enterprise to the new south of Scotland enterprise and the establishment of the Scottish national investment bank. Capital spend has been maintained to reflect planned activities within its allocation. Scottish Enterprise has a fantastic track record of supporting companies and economic growth, and it will continue to have that good track record well into next year and well beyond.