Our Plan for Scotland

An innovative economy

An innovative economy

As we were clear on the very first page, business and enterprise in Scotland will benefit from our transformation of education in the next five years.

But our support for business goes wider. In essence Scottish Liberal Democrats will provide Scottish business with skilled, healthy and motivated potential employees; with a competitive business tax system; and modern transport and communications infrastructure. We will:

  • Encourage entrepreneurship and start-up businesses with new networking opportunities, enterprise education in schools, and the expansion of creativity, innovation and excellence through culture and sport;
  • Engage business in the planning and delivery of sector skills through schools and colleges;
  • Make sure mental health services reflect the needs of business to retain a healthy workforce;
  • Restate support for enterprise education in schools as part of the enhancement of school education and the richer curriculum in the next five years;
  • Continue to promote exports through the work of the Scottish Government, Scottish Development International and the UK diplomatic presence around the world;
  • Support growth of social enterprises in Scotland, to promote the innovation they can bring, and the wide group of people they draw into the productive economy;
  • We will support Scottish regional deals, building on the existing city deal model to bring governments, local business, councils, and colleges together to develop their regional economy. These can champion, for example, the oil and gas industry in the North East, tourism or food and drink.

For the rural economy and businesses two of the biggest things we can do are to restore competence and timeliness to agricultural payment schemes for farmers and crofters, and to extend super-fast broadband and modern mobile phone coverage to business in all parts of Scotland. We will do both.

For the rural economy we will also:

  • Complete coverage of super-fast broadband and mobile phone across Scotland, using additional support from our Fit For The Future Investment Fund for innovative ways to do this, for example using unused TV channels where appropriate;
  • Guarantee to increase the resources deployed in advance of the future rounds of CAP payments to make sure farmers get their money in a timely way;
  • Establish an immediate restitution scheme to compensate farmers who incurred excessive banking costs because of the delay in their CAP payment;
  • Continue to reform procurement rules to encourage purchase of local food and help smaller producers and farmers access large public sector markets; 
  • Press for increased powers for the Grocery Code Adjudicator to allow investigation of unfair practices throughout the supply chain not just from retailer and direct supplier; 
  • End the one-size-fits-all system operated by the Crofting Commission;
  • Use the Smith Commission recommendation on the use of seafood levies to improve the marketing of Scottish seafood;
  • Support measures to address the environmental and economic madness of fisheries discards, while recognising the complexity of the problem and engaging the industry fully throughout;
  • Campaign against further centralisation of services from rural areas by including protections for local authorities in the Public Service Leadership and Empowerment Act; 
  • Devolve the functions of the Crown Estate from Edinburgh to local communities to ensure that the benefits of our marine resources are retained as far as possible within the communities reliant on them;
  • Introduce an Islands Act to island-proof all legislation, to give Scottish ministers the right to issue guidance to public authorities as to the way they can vary national services to make them more suitable for islands, subject to local authority consent;
  • Give Highland Council and Argyll and Bute Council the same powers over their surrounding waters as offered to Orkney, Shetland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar;
  • Campaign for the principle of a universal service obligation to be extended to energy prices, broadband, postal charges and telecoms to prevent the price discrimination against remote communities;
  • Implement the Land Reform Act and establish a review by the end of the parliamentary term to consider further reform;
  • Continue the general review of Scottish planning policy and practice to ensure a system of development planning that supports the appropriate delivery of housing and other infrastructure, supports environmental protection and addresses community engagement.