Glasgow & West Scotland

Glasgow City Council wants action to 'mitigate Brexit impact'

Glasgow skyline - SSE Hydro and Clyde Arc bridge Image copyright Getty Images

Scotland's largest council has said the greater Glasgow area will suffer unless there is specific government action to mitigate the effects of Brexit.

A new report from Glasgow City Council sets out challenges the area will face after the referendum result in favour of the UK leaving the European Union.

It says "specific policy decisions" are needed from the UK and Scottish governments to support the city region.

Among these is for EU funded projects to be picked up by both governments.

Image caption EU, Saltire and Union flag

'Major challenges'

Glasgow City Council leader Frank McAveety said action was needed from both governments to avert a potential crisis.

"I believe that Brexit will confront Glasgow with major economic challenges," he said.

"I also believe these can be overcome if special action is taken by the Scottish and UK governments.

"If that happens then the problems associated with Brexit can become an opportunity for economic growth and not a threat of crisis."

The report, "Brexit and the Glasgow Economy: Impacts, Actions and Asks", was produced by the council, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and Glasgow Economic Leadership board - a partnership group comprising the council, chamber of commerce, Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland.

The council said the report was compiled with the help of more than 100 senior business, local government and academic leaders.

It will now be submitted to the first minister's Standing Committee on Europe, led by Professor Anton Muscatelli, Principal of Glasgow University.

'Main asks'

The report makes six "main asks of the Scottish and UK governments" to mitigate the effects of Brexit. These are:

  • to match EU structural and investment funds, currently worth £780m to Scotland between 2014 and 2020;
  • to accelerate Glasgow City Deal projects, such as the Glasgow Airport Rail link;
  • transfer surplus government land holdings to Glasgow City Council to allow accelerated house-building programmes;
  • more effective collaborations on economic development to support higher levels of innovation and growth;
  • a commitment to fund Scotland's share of the EU's £80bn Horizon 2020 programme beyond and to clarify the immigration status of EU students;
  • a two-year moratorium on non-domestic rates from the Scottish government for new build Grade A properties that are not fully let.
Image copyright Getty Images

'System shock'

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, chair of the Glasgow Economic Leadership board and Principal of Strathclyde University, said: "There is no doubt that Brexit is a fundamental system shock and one that poses challenges to us all.

"We will now position our city to meet the challenges of Brexit and exploit longer-term opportunities to grow our economy.

"Only by working together can we boost our economic fundamentals: our skills, innovation and entrepreneurship. It is on these foundations that our future will and must be based."

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said quick action was needed to meet the challenges ahead.

He said: "In order to take advantage of the new world as it exists in the aftermath of the Brexit vote and to seize the opportunities that will be presented to us, a clear, collective, coherent and forward looking approach from the City of Glasgow and from the Scottish and UK governments is required.

"We cannot do this alone and whilst uncertainly continues around our future trading relationship with the EU we must combine all our efforts now to secure investment and jobs and to boost trade."

Government action

A Scottish government spokesman said that leaving the EU was "without doubt the biggest threat to Scotland's long-term economic success".

"The Scottish government is taking decisive action to counter economic uncertainty," he said.

"In August the first minister announced a £100m capital acceleration programme to stimulate the economy and a further £500m for a Scottish growth scheme was announced in the programme for government.

"The appointment of a Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland's place in Europe and the recently formed Standing Council will ensure that Scotland's voice is heard loud and clear in negotiating Scotland's interests and our relationship with Europe."

He said the Scottish government was a "full partner in the Glasgow City Region City Deal" to which it was contributing up to £500m.

A UK government spokesman said: "The Secretary of State for Scotland has held dozens of meetings across the country to discuss our exit from the EU, including with groups delivering the Glasgow City Region City Deal.

"We will also work closely with the Scottish government - and get the best possible deal for all parts of the UK as leave the EU.

"We will give the Scottish government every opportunity to have their say as we form our negotiating strategy and we will look at any suggestions they put forward."

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