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UK Government accused of ‘stymieing’ set up of Scottish National Investment Bank

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay urged the Treasury to ‘let us get on with the job’.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay addresses delegates during the 2019 SNP autumn conference (Jane Barlow/PA)
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay addresses delegates during the 2019 SNP autumn conference (Jane Barlow/PA)

By Katrine Bussey, PA Scotland Political Editor

The new Scottish National Investment Bank is on track to open this time next year – despite the UK Government “stymieing” work to set up the new institution.

Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the Treasury had so far failed to give the new bank permission to carry money over between financial years.

This could be done “at the stroke of a pen”, Mr Mackay said, as he urged the Treasury to “let us get on with the job.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans to set up the Scottish National Investment Bank in 2017, to help more businesses access the funding they need.

Mr Mackay also said the new institution would be contributing to the “transition to net-zero emissions” by supporting environmentally friendly initiatives.

But speaking at the SNP conference in Aberdeen, he said: “For the Scottish National Investment Bank to operate effectively, we require a Treasury permission to carry money between financial years, as you would expect of a bank.

“With the stroke of a pen, the Treasury could give that permission, resolve the issue, and allow our bank to progress, but so far they have refused.”

He called on the UK Government to “stop stymieing the building of the bank, and let us get on with the job”.

Despite that, he insisted that “come what may, the bank is on track to be open for business this time next year”.

The Finance Secretary also used his speech to stress that Scotland will be “at the forefront of the green energy revolution”.

Highlighting the links between the environment and the economy, Mr Mackay said that the transition to green energy would “create new jobs and new industries”.

He stated: “Scottish industry has been at the forefront of previous industrial revolutions and we are determined to ensure that it will be at the forefront of the green industrial revolution.

“The Government will play our part and we will work with business to create the right environment for investment and a just transition that leaves no one behind.”

He also said his forthcoming budget for 2020-21 – which will be unveiled at Holyrood in December –  would have the issue of wellbeing at its centre.

Mr Mackay said: “Alongside tackling climate change, reducing child poverty and delivering sustainable and inclusive economic growth, increasing wellbeing will be core to the next Scottish budget.

“A budget that keeps us healthy, delivering hundreds of millions more for our health service. A budget that boosts our economy both now and in the future through the expansion of early learning and childcare.

“A budget that keeps our communities safe through increased funding for Police Scotland.

“And something that we should be proud of. This will be a budget that will take a decisive step towards reducing child poverty in Scotland with the introduction of a £10-a-week Scottish Child Payment.”

Mr Mackay said this would be achieved with the help of the Scottish Government’s “competitive, progressive tax system”.

PA

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