Finance Secretary Derek Mackay on why Scotland is a great place to invest
As Finance Secretary one part of my job I enjoy the most is speaking to - and hearing from - companies and investors about why Scotland is such a great place to do business and invest in. We know it is, but it is hugely encouraging to hear others echoing those sentiments as I did at an investment breakfast, hosted by the Scottish Cities Alliance, Scottish Development International and Scottish Enterprise, at Scotland House in London last month.
It was my first visit to Scotland House – our new innovation and investment hub in the centre of London. It’s tangible evidence of our commitment to be active and engaged in London and its markets and opportunities. We aim to make it the ‘go to’ place for Scottish organisations – where they can meet and build relationships with new and existing clients and investors. I would encourage those of you who see London as being important to achieving the growth ambitions of your businesses to take a look at what’s available – it really highlights the best Scotland has to offer.
Scotland is open for business. It’s a phrase that we use regularly but it’s one we firmly believe in. There is evidence to back this up as the results of the 2017 EY Attractiveness survey shows that in 2016, Scotland secured more Foreign Direct Investment projects than any part of the UK outside London for the fifth year in a row.
It’s great news for our cities as well, with Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen all featuring in the UK’s top ten cities for inward investment.
Cities and their regions are the engines of our economy. That’s why the Scottish Government is investing £760 million over the next 10-20 years in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness through City Region Deals. Glasgow and Aberdeen alone estimate that their deals will deliver more than 32,000 jobs.
Investors have shown a keen interest in our planning reform. An effective planning system allows towns and cities to live up to their potential. We have recently concluded a consultation on 20 key proposals for change covering; plans, people, housing and infrastructure and resourcing. Together these changes form a coherent programme that build on, strengthen and enhance the performance of our planning system.
On 1 June we introduced changes to the planning application fees in Scotland. Fee income does not cover the full cost of processing planning applications and these changes do not affect the majority of applications. For those that are, the new maximum will be £125,000, about half of the maximum in England. The fee increase provided will help support planning authority performance improvement. At the other end of the spectrum, our proposals for change include rebranding and broadening the scope of simplified planning zones, removing the need for planning applications, where proposals are in line with the SPZ scheme.
All areas of Scotland need to flourish if we are to deliver on our economic ambitions to increase inclusive growth. I’m grateful to the Scottish Cities Alliance for helping us to achieve this.