New enterprise agency set up for south

Keith Brown says the Scottish Government is acting to support business
Keith Brown says the Scottish Government is acting to support business

The Scottish government has revealed plans to reform Scotland’s enterprise and skills agencies including the setting up of a new body for the south, including Galloway.

The SNP Government propose setting up a new Scotland-wide statutory board to co-ordinate the activities of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Scottish Enterprise and HIE run projects including Scottish Development International, Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council.

The changes follow a government review carried out earlier this year.

Local Conservative MSP Finlay Carson has welcomed the announcement that a South of Scotland Enterprise Agency is to be set up.

He said that this was one of the key recommendations found in the Scottish Conservative manifesto for the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary elections, and one of Carson’s own manifesto pledges.

Finlay Carson said: “I’m pleased that the Scottish Government has listened to the concerns of businesses in the South of Scotland. There has been a feeling for some time that because of the unique challenges faced in Galloway and West Dumfries, we need our own dedicated agency to support the creation of new jobs and boost local businesses.

“In April, my party called for a South of Scotland enterprise agency, with a budget of £25million and I’m pleased the Scottish Government have now adopted this policy.

“I will now expect them to back this agency with the necessary funding and resources. I have today written to the Cabinet Secretary seeking clarification on the structure and funding of this body.

“A dedicated support agency has the potential to stimulate growth in the local economy, but more still needs to be done to help existing businesses in Galloway and West Dumfries”.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: “We are proud of our enterprise and skills agencies, and in recent years their efforts have contributed to real improvements in our economic performance.

“But we know that further improvement is required - our ambition is for Scotland to rank among the top-performing OECD nations for productivity, equality, sustainability and wellbeing.

“Since the review was announced, the EU referendum result has made the economic context more challenging. It requires that we renew our focus and prioritise our efforts.

“This review has focused on how we can build on existing strengths and successes to further improve.”