John Swinney announces £105m economic stimulus package

From Democracy Live: Finance Secretary John Swinney said each of the capital projects could be taken forward quickly

Finance Secretary John Swinney has announced a £105m capital investment package in a bid to stimulate Scotland's economy.

It includes £22m for renewables and low carbon initiatives and £35m for housing.

The stimulus includes bringing forward investment projects across a range of sectors.

Ministers claimed it would "maximise opportunities" this year for job creation and growth.

Mr Swinney said the move showed that where the Scottish government had fiscal flexibility, it would use its resources in order to boost recovery.

'Maximum impact'

The Scottish government said each of the capital projects could be taken forward quickly and would "deliver the maximum economic impact" from the funds available.

It added that the money was coming from "a mixture of prudent financial management, previous underspend, accelerated funding and fossil fuel levy".

Mr Swinney said: "The Scottish government is maximising the value of every public pound available as we take forward our programmes to support economic recovery and deliver high-quality, efficient public services.

Stimulus package highlights

  • £22m for renewables and low carbon initiatives
  • Accelerated investment of £15m and an extra £20m investment in housing
  • Accelerated investment of £15m to expand existing hospital maintenance programme
  • Investment in colleges at Inverness Campus
  • Taking forward transport projects, including funding for green buses and improvements to the A75 Hardgrove to Kinmount route
  • Extra investment in visitor facilities at national parks and Forestry Commission estate

"Our careful management of Scotland's finances means that we are able to increase levels of capital investment now to boost our future prosperity.

"While these projects will support and stimulate economic growth, they will also deliver on a range of wider objectives such as environmental and health improvement, housing, greener transport, maintenance of our health estate, and culture and tourism.

"We are also focusing our support on local economies and investment in key geographical areas."

He added: "By accelerating this programme of capital investment we are taking action where the Westminster government has failed to do so."

The Scottish government has repeatedly claimed that the UK government's austerity approach is failing to produce growth in the UK economy.

In March, Mr Swinney accused Chancellor George Osborne of placing too much emphasis on austerity, and of using the euro crisis as an excuse for the stalling UK economy.

'Positive move'

Responding to the stimulus announcement, CBI Scotland assistant director David Lonsdale said: "The finance secretary is right to highlight the economic benefits of infrastructure investment.

"Bringing forward planned capital expenditure is a positive move at this challenging time for the economy, and should help in terms of employment and also help minimise future maintenance bills."

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce also welcomed the decision to accelerate capital spending.

Chief executive Liz Cameron said: "This is exactly what is needed in the Scottish economy right now and we believe that this ought to send a signal to the UK government that more is needed at that level too in terms of investment in the kind of capital projects that will create and sustain jobs as well as boost Scotland's longer term economic potential."

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