Several prominent Dundee businessmen have backed a report commissioned by Sir Tom Hunter which calls for “radical” measures to boost economic growth.
The Oxford Economics report for the businessman’s Hunter Foundation demands significant tax cuts and deregulation for companies, as well as increased government investment through borrowing.
The report, released earlier this week, notes that Scotland’s GDP per capita is lower than countries like Denmark and Norway and calls for changes in policy from both the UK and Scottish governments.
Long list of supporters
It has now been backed by a group of 27 business leaders.
Among those in support are Dundee-based businessmen Chris van der Kuyl and Paddy Burns of 4J Studios, Fraser Edmond from city firm Broker Insights and Ellis Watson, former chairman of DC Thomson.
Andrew Wilson, founder of the Charlotte Street Partners consultancy and author of the SNP’s Sustainable Growth Commission report has also signed in support.
It is also backed by the chief executives of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce and Women’s Enterprise Scotland.
Collaboration not conflict
In a joint letter, the 27 business leaders say the report makes a strong case for a new economic strategy in Scotland.
The letter says: “Radical and ambitious policy changes are required if Scotland’s economic performance is to be transformed and significantly boosted within the next 15 years, and there must be no sacred cows as we determine those changes
“We must, as a necessity not a choice, address Scotland’s low productivity, poor business birth rate and lack of success with scale-ups that mean Scotland’s GDP per head is a mere 44% of Singapore’s level, 48% of Ireland’s, 68% of Norway’s and 75% of Denmark’s.
“We must act now, in collaboration not conflict, to support and deliver a strategy that takes us up the ladder of GDP and drives innovation and scaling – not just within business but across the whole of the public sector.
“Achieving significant growth in our GDP is not just in every single person’s interest, it’s an imperative if we are to maintain and indeed enhance our public services and drive the jobs that are so desperately needed post-pandemic.”
Gap between Scotland and other countries
The report claims the gap between the economies of Scotland and Norway is so large it would need a business the size of Google’s global output to make GDP per head the same level.
It adds that Scotland’s GDP per head has been about 8% lower than the UK as a whole for many years, largely because of poorer productivity.
The report forecasts that for the period from 2020 to 2035, Scottish real GDP growth will average just 1.3%.
The letter from the business leaders stresses the importance of creating a vibrant economy for young people.
It adds: “We need to be exceptional custodians of Scotland’s future for their sakes. To do so we cannot simply do what we have always done, tinkering on the edges, Scotland needs to think big and it needs to think fast.
“Our opportunity is our size, we are a speed boat compared to the super tanker economies and we are a nation that has historically invented the modern world, it’s not beyond our ken to do that again.
“We implore a rational, national debate on our economic future to then deliver a strategy and an operational implementation plan for Scotland’s growth.”