Linda Fabiani MSP for East Kilbride has urged Westminster urged to allow work across Scotland to get underway now. Thirty-six infrastructure projects worth more than £300 million could get underway now if the UK Government gives Scotland the green light.
Linda said “’Shovel ready’ projects, such as the Raith Interchange Upgrade in Lanarkshire, could go ahead now and provide vital support to employment with every additional £100 million of capital spending estimated to support around 1,400 jobs across the Scottish economy.
“The Scottish Labour Market Figures from today are disappointing, however there are still more people in work in Scotland than across the UK. We need sustained action in next week’s UK Budget to support economic recovery and this would be a way in which we could do that.
“All of these projects are close to or already have completed the planning and procurement process and are ready for construction to get underway. However, with UK Government cuts of 32 per cent in Scotland’s capital budget having a severe effect, funding for them is not yet available.
“As a result the Scottish Government is asking the UK Government to allow Scotland to bring forward capital funding from future years, to allow construction to get underway straight away.
“The Scottish Government will go on doing what it can, but we need the UK Government to allow us to bring forward capital spending to get the diggers on the ground and these projects built as soon as possible.
“Last month, the Scottish Government delivered a budget for growth – which boosts public sector capital investment, takes action to tackle unemployment and in particular youth unemployment, and enhances economic security.
“In Scotland, a whole-Government approach to the issue of youth unemployment is being spearheaded by the UK’s first dedicated Minister for Youth Employment, Angela Constance.
“£30m of funding is being used to implement – among other things – the Opportunities for All initiative, which will guarantee a training place to every 16 to 19-year-old who is not already in a positive destination. Initial announcements through this funding include continuation of the Community Jobs Scotland scheme, the Social Enterprise challenge fund and bespoke support for some of the most disadvantaged young people.
“By investing £1.5 billion year-on-year in education and training, 25,000 Modern Apprenticeships, retention of the Education Maintenance Allowance and free education we can give our young people the best opportunities but we need Westminster to give us the power to maximise our economy and prevent a return to the 1980s.
“What this highlights is the limitations of the current constitutional arrangements, in particular our inability to borrow. That means work is delayed while we await the green light from Westminster, which is completely unacceptable and is holding us back.”