IN MY PREVIOUS election articles I have focussed on the SNP’s record in Government and on fairness and dignity underpinning our welfare and support policies.
This week I will set out the principles of our economic policy and how that can benefit Moray in the years to come.
The SNP’s record and our fundamental drive for fairness also underpin that economic policy. In terms of our record we have delivered major infrastructure investment in Moray in transportation, flood protection, new housing, new schools and new health facilities and that is what we will build further on.
We will continue to invest in Moray with a commitment to build a replacement Lossiemouth High School, our ongoing commitment and investment to dual the A96, our investment in our rail infrastructure to reduce journey times and see many more direct services from Moray to the central belt on more comfortable trains. We are also committed to investing in thousands of new homes.
All of this investment is of course a driver for local jobs here in Moray, especially in our hugely important construction sector, that in turn generates new apprenticeship opportunities and pushes money into our local economy supporting many other businesses.
When there have been challenges for particular areas we have stepped up to the mark and worked with local partners to protect jobs. The most recent examples of that have been the Ferguson Shipyard, where the SNP Government secured new investment to give the yard a productive future, and our steel industry, where the Scottish Government worked with potential investors to protect many jobs and key industry that Scotland should be rightly proud of.
Closer to home, when the future of our military bases was threatened the SNP Government worked closely with local partners such as the Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to invest in diversifying the economy, protecting and creating jobs.
The SNP is committed to maximising investment in infrastructure and skills, driving innovation, boosting exports and promoting more inclusive growth. To achieve that a re-elected SNP government would guarantee a relentless focus on continuing to improve our economy, using every power at our disposal to boost our economy and create more and better jobs across Scotland.
To achieve that we have set out a number of key actions that we will take:
- New support to help business scale up and expand
- Launching a new Innovation Prize, with an annual award for the project that can best turn new ideas into new businesses, jobs and growth
- A new educational programme targeted at developing entrepreneurial skills within the workplace
- Investing in apprenticeships and support for young people to get into work
- Triple the number of exporting advisors in Scotland and fund new Innovation and Investment Hubs in London, Dublin and Brussels to attract inward investment and help companies and academia access new markets and investors
In addition the Small Business Bonus Scheme the SNP introudced saves small businesses in Moray thousands of pounds every year, giving them vital support to start-up, grow and thrive.
The SNP has ensured that our public bodies pay as a minimum the real Living Wage, independently calculated, which is higher than the UK Government’s ‘National Living Wage’. We have also given financial support for public bodies to have sub-contractors pay the Living Wage – especially important in the care sector, with thousands workers in the care sector in moray alone.
Fairness in the workplace is hugely important. We believe fundamentally that well paid, valued workers contribute more to our country and we will continue to work with employers to continue increasing the percentage of our workforce who are earning at least the Living Wage.
Under the SNP government youth employment has risen to its highest level since 2009 and is now the highest of any country in the UK, but we can still do more.
For our young workforce we will introduce a Jobs Grant for young people aged 16-24 who have been out of work for six months and are starting a job for more than 16 hours a week.
The grant will support the costs of re-entering the workplace. Those eligible for the grant will also receive support with the costs of public transport for up to three months.
The Jobs Grant which could support around 6,000 young people each year to get into work and stay in work forms part of our plans to reduce youth unemployment by 40% by 2021.
Our economy underpins everything we do. By getting people into fair, well paid employment we support our local economies, our local businesses and it supports the generation of revenue to pay for the critical services that we use every day.
All Moray candidates in the 2016 Parliamentary Election plus list candidates for the Green Party and an Independent were invited to submit their views on one day each week until Friday, April 29 – they will then be invited to sum-up their cases on Sunday, May 1 in a final address on insideMoray before the election.
Candidates for the Banffshire and Buchan constituency that includes part of Moray around Buckie have also been invited to submit their views – two accepted, two did not reply – and none have actually submitted any article.