Since 2007, we have taken real action to protect jobs, boost economic growth and improve productivity. More people are in work than when the recession hit, unemployment is at a near historic low, our economy is growing faster than the UK as a whole, exports are up and our higher education R&D spend is amongst the highest in the developed world.
But there’s much still to do. We’re taking action to support businesses, create jobs and build a more equal country.
To build a skilled and educated workforce, we’re committed to increasing the number of Modern Apprenticeships to 30,000; we’re increasing college funding, and education will continue to be tuition free under the SNP.
To support small businesses, we have expanded the Small Business Bonus Scheme. Small businesses have saved more than a billion pounds in Business Rates, thanks to the scheme.
We are funding a total business rates relief package worth more than £750 million, the most generous anywhere in the UK.
We’re connecting businesses to the markets they need. We’ve met our target to provide broadband access to 95 per cent of premises, and we’ll reach 100 per cent by 2021.
To further improve access to finance, we are establishing a Scottish National Investment Bank, supporting businesses with the long-term investment they need to grow.
We’re standing up for Scottish industry. The SNP government secured a future for Scottish Steel, with the transfer of the Dalzell and Clydebridge plants to Liberty Steel; the Ferguson shipyard in Inverclyde, and the UK’s last remaining aluminium smelter in Lochaber.
And we are providing support for our manufacturing sector, the £48 million National Manufacturing Institute will deliver benefits for manufacturing companies of all sizes in sectors across Scotland.
We are establishing a new Board of Trade in the Scottish Government, setting up a new trade envoy scheme and have created permanent trade representation in Berlin and Paris to add to our Investment hubs in Dublin, London and Brussels.
We are also doubling the number of Scottish Development International staff working across Europe to support investment and trade opportunities for Scotland. These additional resources will work to identify, nurture and develop new opportunities for Scottish companies in priority sectors and markets.
And, we’re working to protect Scotland’s place in the single market, which is over eight times the size of the UK market. The Scottish Government has set out a plan to keep Scotland in the European Single Market – protecting our economy, trade, jobs and living standards. By contrast, a Tory hard Brexit, outside the single market, could cost Scotland 80,000 jobs over a decade and people an average of £2,000 in wages.