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Brown think tank lays out plan for ‘decade of delivery’ to create 300,000 jobs

The strategy suggests the creation of ‘growth zones’ where selected industries could be based to improve access to labour and expertise.

Craig Paton
Thursday 30 November 2023 00:01 GMT
The former prime minister is due to speak at a conference in Edinburgh on Thursday (Victoria Jones/PA)
The former prime minister is due to speak at a conference in Edinburgh on Thursday (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

The think tank started by former prime minister Gordon Brown has laid out a plan it claims will create 300,000 jobs through a “decade of delivery”.

Ahead of a conference in Edinburgh on Thursday, Our Scottish Future published a report on how to increase economic growth in Scotland, which it claims would also lift 100,000 people on “poverty pay” into higher paying work.

The report urges the creation of an industrial strategy for Scotland, which would focus on green manufacturing and advanced minerals and exploration, digital and creative, business services, precision medicine and advanced manufacturing and premium agrifoods and alcohol.

The think tank pushed for the creation of five physical sites – known as “growth zones” – in Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen with two in the greater Glasgow area which would be governed jointly by the local council and the Scottish and UK governments where one or more of the sectors could be located.

The report said the initiative – which would work as an effective extension of the UK Government’s investment zone programme – would make it “easier to access a shared labour market, supply chains, or a community of knowledge”.

Employers within the zones should be offered “conditional tax rebates” by the Treasury if they meet “demanding employment creation, training targets and/or export revenue targets”.

In these industries, the report said, 120,000 jobs would be created, with 180,000 more in the supply chain.

In his foreword to the report, the former prime minister – who served in Downing Street between 2007 and 2010 – said Scotland was “stuck in a low growth rut”.

A decade of delivery is possible – and with this report, we urge our political leaders to seize that opportunity

Gordon Brown

He added: “Think of what we can achieve when we come together. We can avoid a descent into a zero-sum society, which declares that for us to win, others must lose.

“We can build instead a culture of win-win where, through collaboration, cooperation and solidarity with one another, we can construct a society from which all of us gain.

“A decade of delivery is possible – and with this report, we urge our political leaders to seize that opportunity.”

If action is not taken, the report concluded, Scotland risks becoming “two nations” which would be “made up of middle-income earners and the destitute”.

“This is the future we are facing without growth. It is one all political parties must work to avoid,” it said.

The wide-ranging report also recommended the creation of so-called “S level” technical qualifications, the devolution of the Job Centre Plus network to Scotland which would offer support to those unable to work because of poor mental health, high childcare costs or who are entering the labour market.

The think tank also calls for the creation of a Scottish Careers Service and a “fundamental review” of the universal credit and child tax credit system.

The report will be presented at a conference in Edinburgh on Thursday, where Mr Brown, as well as Lord Sainsbury and shadow secretary of state Ian Murray, will speak.

Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray said: “The Scottish Government is delivering economic and social policy success in a range of areas within our current powers.

“These include investing to drive the development of the hydrogen sector and carbon capture and storage, and supporting a just transition to net zero.

“We already developing a Green Industrial Strategy to maximise the economic opportunity of our green energy potential.

“On social justice, the Scottish Child Payment has been described as a ‘game changer’ and contributed to lifting an estimated 90,000 children out of poverty.

“However, as part of the UK our powers are limited and too often hampered by Westminster decisions like Brexit, a migration system that fails Scotland and austerity which continues to starve public finances and the wider economy.

“Only with independence can Scotland match the economic success of our European neighbours, enabling us to strengthen public services, and improve environmental sustainability.”

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