by a Newsnet reporter
Leading Scottish businessman Sir Tom Hunter has called on the UK government to take a fresh look at its economic strategy in order to stimulate growth. Speaking to the Herald newspaper, Sir Tom said that the approach taken by the UK government was unbalanced as it was overly concerned with cutting the public sector deficit at the expense of assisting the recovery.
Sir Tom said: “At present the Government has focused too much on austerity measures and too little on economic stimulation and we simply need a better balance. Stimulation will build businesses and hence offer new employment opportunities ultimately increasing the overall tax take (from business and individuals) and driving growth; if we continue to focus largely on austerity alone we will remain resolutely moribund as an economy.”
Sir Tom’s intervention was welcomed by the Scottish government, which has also been calling on the UK government to take more steps to promote growth. The SNP government also fears that the UK government’s policies are actually harming the economy and delaying an economic recovery.
John Wilson, Deputy Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Economy committee, gave his backing to Sir Tom’s comments, saying:
“Sir Tom’s comments are part of growing calls on the UK Government to face up the fact its policies are harming the economy.
“The UK needs a ‘better balance’ between cutting the deficit and growing the economy – something the SNP Government has been urging for some time now.
“Sir Tom’s call for stimulation in the economy underlines the urgent need for a rethink of policy at Westminster.
“The UK Government must stop with its negative cuts campaign and instead boost consumer confidence with investment in infrastructure, encourage banks to lend and be flexible in its approach to economic policy.
“These actions have been enacted by the SNP Government and resulted in a stronger Scotland with higher employment and lower unemployment than the rest of the UK.
“We are building recovery in Scotland with a growth strategy prioritising capital investment. But we need access to all the key levers of economic growth to fully support Scotland’s economy.
“Borrowing powers and corporation tax must be fully devolved to allow us to enhance investment and to create a more prosperous nation.”
Recently Sir Tom gave his support to calls to devolve control of Corporation Tax to the Scottish Parliament, a move favoured by the Scottish government but opposed by Westminster. Sir Tom said that he believed that the economy required “positive intervention” instead of austerity measures and that he saw the devolution of Corporation Tax to be one such positive measure to boost the Scottish economy.