Confidence grows as Scottish investment hits six year high


  By Stefan Bienkowski
Scotland’s economic recovery is well and truly underway with businesses reporting higher levels of confidence and optimism in the first three months of this year, compared to the same period twelve months ago.
In its quarterly business survey published today, the Scottish Chambers of Commerce(SCC) stated that all sectors had reported back with higher levels of confidence in Q1 of 2014, whilst construction, wholesale, retail and tourism saw continued growth.

Conducted by Strathclyde University’s Fraser of Allander Institute, the study suggested that a number of signs throughout the economy pointed to a return of pre-recession levels not seen since 2007.

SCC chief executive Liz 
Cameron, who announced the latest results, stated that the signs point to sustained growth.

“Investment intentions of Scottish businesses are encouraging with the manufacturing industry showing superb results with higher levels of investment than at any time in the past 6 years and robust growth in export orders shown by a consistent increase over 5 consecutive quarters,” she said.

Mrs Cameron also pointed out that although investment levels in the construction sector have remained low, they have failed to decline for only the second time in five years, whilst adding that over 70 percent of businesses in the industry have either maintained or increased their domestic orders.

She added; “Promisingly, almost 90% of construction businesses surveyed expect employee numbers to remain the same or increase in the next 3 months and less than 14% reduced employment in the previous quarter.”

The report follows yesterday’s published employment figures which stated that Scottish employment now stands at 2.75m – the highest seen since records began.

Despite a small increase in unemployment by just under 3000, this week’s Office of National Statistics(ONS) report stated that the total number of people in employment rose by over 16,000 in the past three months.

The new numbers also pointed out that the employment figure within Scotland rose by 2.7% over the past 12 months as 67,000 people found a new job. This puts the country’s employment rate at 73.3% and its unemployment rate at 6.5%. Both figures better than the UK average of 72.6% and 6.9% respectively.

Commenting, SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn said:

“This report is further proof that the actions the SNP is taking in government to support and strengthen the Scottish economy are paying off, with manufacturing investment intentions at a six year high and confidence growing across the board.

“Yesterday’s GDP figures show the underlying strength in the Scottish economic recovery. And Scotland is also outperforming the UK on employment and all other headline labour market figures. But we could do more with the full powers only a Yes vote will bring.

“With independence we will have all the tools we need to make our economy even stronger – and ensure more companies see that Scotland is a good investment.”