There is an Opportunities for All scheme which will provide a learning or training place for every 16-19 year old, if they want it. That’s important because once you let a kid leave school and do nothing, it is so much more difficult to get him (or her) motivated in the future. Leisure becomes a habit for some and poverty becomes the norm. And, as Granny would say, 'the dei’l maks work fur idle hans, laddie'.
The government is going to prioritise capital investment, which means creating employment. Remember there was an 11% rise in the construction industry last year in Scotland compared to a 0.2% decrease for the UK and of the 25,000 jobs created in the UK over the last 3 months, 24,000 were in Scotland. Not bad given the size of our population. Businesses are even locating to Scotland from England.
There are infrastructure projects including hospital projects in Glasgow, and the Forth Crossing, a project which in itself will create over 3,000 jobs!! There’s a housing investment programme worth £400 million, supporting more than 15,000 jobs, and building houses which are so desperately needed.
There is a £70 million fund for renewables. OK, many don’t like or want renewables, preferring to rely on gas, oil and coal, but we need to accept that it’s the future and there is interest in it from all around the world. WE need to be in the forefront of attracting the business. Shaking heads and sticking to the 1970s’ technology will only mean that Ireland or Denmark, or England, will pick up the contracts, and engineering and industrial jobs instead of us. You don't have to like it, but like the jobs it creates.
The days when companies were happy to wait for dial up broadband, or indeed work with no internet access at all, were over years ago, but some of our connections are still lamentably slow. So, to encourage companies to Scotland the government will be setting out to get broadband to all. That’s no easy task in a country as big as ours with many isolated communities, but it must, and will, be done, creating jobs by doing it and in the doing of it.
The small business bonus scheme will continue, meaning no rates for small companies. With savings of up to £4,000 a year this is a welcome boost to the private sector.
There is also a policy of no compulsory redundancies and a living wage for all the government’s staff. Lucky them, you might think. But they do matter and them having no confidence in their future is bad for all of us in so many ways. Yes, there will be cuts. There will have to be. We’ve lost billions from the budget, but at least those who don’t want to go, won’t have to. So they can do their jobs without worry, and they can spend their money...
There is, of course, much more, but I was genuinely pleased to see that, when the UK government is doing its best to create unemployment, Edinburgh is working to put people into jobs.
Even if George Osborne doesn’t have a plan B, thank heavens, the Scottish government does. It almost makes you feel as if we ARE all in this together.
(The illustration is, I'm told, British Crown copyrighted and as such acknowledgement must be made to the British Crown for its use. So: Thank you your majesty xx.)