Scottish Conservatives set up new expert group to look at growth

The Scottish Conservatives are today underlining their ambitions for Scotland by announcing the creation of a major new independent economic body to set out fresh thinking on future growth.

Comprising some of Scotland’s pre-eminent figures in commerce, industry and academia, the Scottish Future Growth Council will advise the party on key economic issues – such as how to solve the country’s “productivity puzzle”.

The group will be chaired by former Scotland Office Minister Lord Dunlop who, in his time in government, pioneered the successful City Deal plans across Scotland.

The unveiling of the group comes as new figures have demonstrated Scotland is lagging behind the UK on business growth.

They show the number of new businesses in Scotland grew by just 1.6 per cent last year, the lowest in the UK.

That compares to a UK average of 4.5 per cent.

Announcing the group today, Lord Dunlop said he hoped it would deliver fresh ideas to help make Scotland “the best part of the UK to do business.”

The group’s reports will assist the Scottish Conservatives’ on-going policy review set up following the General Election of this year.

Shadow finance secretary Murdo Fraser said the formation of the group demonstrated the party’s intent to provide a credible alternative to the SNP, ready to take over in Government in 2021.

The new group will work independently of the Scottish Conservatives and will focus specifically on devolved policy-making, and ways in which Scottish Government policy can boost Scotland’s performance.

Scottish Conservative shadow finance secretary Murdo Fraser said:

“Having gone from being the third party of Scottish politics to now looking to challenge the SNP to be in government, the Scottish Conservatives are looking to expand our policy offer in advance of the next Scottish elections.

“We are delighted to have assembled such an impressive team of business leaders and economists to advise us on economic and financial matters, under Andrew Dunlop’s leadership. This demonstrates the scale of our ambition.

“With productivity being a key issue for the Scottish economy, we have asked this group to look first at this important area, and come back with suggestions on how productivity can be improved.

“I am sure that their conclusions will be of interest to everyone who wants to see our economy improve.”

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