By a Newsnet reporter
Following comments from the Scottish Building Federation saying George Osborne has “missed a crucial opportunity to accelerate recovery” by snubbing Scotland’s list of shovel-ready projects, the SNP is urging the UK Government to listen to mounting calls for infrastructure investment.
SBF Chief Executive Michael Levack said it was “highly regrettable” the Chancellor failed to pay heed to calls from the Scottish Government to release funding for the projects that would have “boosted direct employment in the construction industry”.
He added: “By ignoring the Scottish Government’s plea to get shovel-ready projects off the ground, George Osborne has missed a crucial opportunity to accelerate recovery.”
Speaking to the industry website Construction Index, Mr Levack said: “It is highly regrettable that the chancellor chose to ignore the Scottish Government’s plea to release funding for £300m worth of shovel-ready infrastructure projects here in Scotland.
“The Scottish government’s own estimate suggests that this investment could have supported more than 4,000 jobs across the Scottish economy. The value of construction output from infrastructure projects last year was around £1.3bn or 12% of total industry output. Subject to how quickly these projects could be rolled out, we believe this additional funding could potentially have boosted direct employment in the construction industry alone by up to almost 5,000 jobs.
“There are some interesting ideas coming forward about leveraging private sector investment into road-building and other major infrastructure improvements in the future. But no sign in this budget of the immediate support the construction industry needs to get itself – and the wider economy – back on its feet.”
Maureen Watt, SNP MSP for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine and convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee, said:
“This Tory snub was a huge blow. Even David Cameron himself had agreed the link between capital investment and protecting jobs – that’s precisely why the Scottish Government submitted this list.
“If the Tories refuse to listen to the Scottish Government, then they should have at least heeded these calls from the business community, including this latest one from Michael Levack.
“The SBF accurately says if the UK Government released the £300 million funding, it would boost jobs in the construction industry – this is simply a missed opportunity, letting Scotland down.
“It only serves to highlight why these decisions should be made in Scotland.”