In a speech today at a CBI Scotland dinner in Inverness, Scotland Office Minister David Mundell highlighted the steps the UK Government is taking to rebalance the economy and urged businesses, charities and trade associations in the Highlands to step forward and be at the heart of the “great debate” surrounding the independence referendum
Mr Mundell’s speech came after a day of engagements in Inverness centered around the UK Government’s welfare reform programme. This included meeting Citizens Advice, Highland and Moray Councils, SCVO and visiting Highland Foodbank.
Extracts from David Mundell’s speech at CBI Scotland dinner – Inverness, 14 March 2013
“Thank you very much for inviting me to join you here today in Inverness. It is a real pleasure to be here and to have an opportunity to talk to you and to answer your questions.
“According to latest national statistics, since the introduction of devolution in 1999 the value of economic activity per person in the central Highlands has increased by over 77% from just under £10,000 to over £17, 500. Indeed the local area of Inverness & Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey recorded the highest rise in economic activity per person in Scotland, together with Shetland and well above the Scottish average, showing how well this part of Scotland is performing economically.
“But we recognise that families and individuals up and down the country are facing challenges. Businesses like those represented by the CBI are at the heart of rebuilding our economy and we want to work with you to strengthen our economic prospects and build a better future: one that offers opportunity to all.
“As a Government we are focussed on playing our part in rebalancing our economy, encouraging investment and supporting business.
“We are also taking action to improve the UK’s export performance and the Secretary of State has commissioned Brian Wilson the former UK trade minister to carry out a review of supporting Scottish exporting to make sure that Scotland gets full advantage of the measures we are taking forward.
“And closer to home for us here today, we have provided 100% capital allowances for plant or machinery investment at Enterprises Areas in Scotland including a dedicated site in Nigg.
“Small and medium sized businesses in Scotland are receiving support through the temporary increase in the Additional Investment Allowance. This increase is significant. The Allowance is going up from £25,000 to £250,000 for two years and will allow businesses to invest in qualifying plant and machinery – helping to provide a real boost to our industries and wider economy.
“It is not only through investment that we can support business and the wider economy here in Scotland and across the rest of the UK.
“The Government’s strategy of fiscal credibility is also key to building a fundamentally stronger economy.
“As part of that, the Autumn Statement delivered a fiscally neutral package of measures. This approach has delivered near-record low interest rates, vital for our businesses and households across Scotland.
“Scottish businesses will benefit from the further 1% cut in the main rate of corporation tax which comes in from 2014, reducing the rate to 21%, the lowest in the G7.
“We are also setting up a UK Business Bank, to tackle long standing structural problems in the supply of finance to SMEs and mid sized corporates. The bank will receive £1bn of UK Government funding to deploy in a way that levers in extra private sector finance and stimulates the development of new sources of finance.
“But it’s not the economy we are investing in. Last year saw a great deal of time invested in the referendum process. Governments are often accused of talking too much about process, but as someone who played a part in those discussions I know that in this case the process was crucial to get right – and get it right we have.
“Businesses in Scotland have access to a single domestic market across the whole UK with no borders to restrict the free movement of goods and people – a far more deeply integrated market than currently achieved in the European Union. Scotland trades almost twice as many goods and services with England, Wales and Northern Ireland as with all the other countries of the world combined.
“Being part of the larger UK generates jobs in Scotland, and reduces costs, encourages innovation and provides greater consumer choice. Scotland’s key specialisms in financial services, energy and defence industries. benefit from being part of the balanced UK economy, which provides a larger market, protects employment and ensures their sustainability:
“Together we are greater than the sum of our parts. If people in Scotland vote to stay a part of the United Kingdom next year - we will retain the security, scale, influence and integration that we all share
“As part of the UK Scotland walks taller and shouts louder on the world stage. Our voice reaches more people in every corner of the globe.
“Our papers over the course of 2013 will set out the evidence about how devolution works in 21st century Britain, the facts about the way in which it benefits us as citizens and the analysis of what would be lost by leaving the UK family.
“In this debate, I want all of you to be active participants. Many of you are already involved in the UK Government’s work. But for those of you who aren’t, I say: please get involved.
“The next period of this discussion must not just involve politicians. I want businesses, charities, trade associations like the CBI to be at the heart of this great debate as well.
“But this will be debate of the heart as well as the head and I relish the opportunity to make the case for a strong proud Scotland within a secure and optimistic United Kingdom.