The Scot-Govt today announced five energy-related measures in its proposed Budget – which was otherwise dominated by political attention on higher personal income-tax changes.
The changes announced by Chancellor Derek Mackay, MSP, comprise; –
- £60 million allocated to the Scottish Low Carbon Innovation Fund
- A vow to investment £9m a year on Scottish oil and gas R&D over the next 10 years
- A £20m investment in the 2018-19 financial year to ‘support the transition’ to BPV cars (battery powered vehicles) and buses.
- An un-specified pledge for a dual-carriageway upgrade and electrification of the main A9 Perth to Inverness highway and a vow to ‘deliver’ electric trains on the Glasgow-Edinburgh rail line, and:
- A vow to invest £137 million in 2018-19 in energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation; this will put some much-needed specifics in the government’s Draft Scottish Energy Strategy, which is expected next month.
Politically, these are uncontroversial (and small-scale) fiscal measures. However, the minority SNP Scot-Govt budget still needs majority parliamentary approval before these measures can be implemented from Spring 2018.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s economic growth over the next five years will be ‘subdued’ – according to the independent Scottish Fiscal Commission.
The commission predicts that the Scottish economy will grow by less than 1% per year until 2022.
Its five-year forecast suggests GDP growth will be 0.7% in both 2017 and 2018, rising to 1.1% in 2022.
It said the outlook was “driven by slow productivity growth and exacerbated by demographic challenges”.
Yesterday, Scotland’s jobless total rose by 8,000 in the three months to October and now stands at 114,000, according to official government figures. The unemployment rate increased by 0.3% to 4.1% – almost on a par with the UK rate of 4.3%.