The latest Bank of Scotland Business Monitor shows surge in economic activity, described as the best since 2007. Indeed, the bank’s figures suggest that economic activity in Scotland has returned to pre-recession levels with the prospect, if the current trend continues, of the economy recording a year of growth in 2013.
The survey – based on results submitted from 414 Scottish firms – suggests a “substantial improvement” in the growth of turnover growth. 45% of firms reporting growth in the period June to August; however, 22% reported a decline and 33% said turnover was flat.
The Bank said that 4 out of 10 businesses surveyed reported an increase in the volume of new business; a quarter said they’d experienced a rise in the volume of repeat business. But more firms reported a fall in export activity compared with those reporting a rise in overseas sales. However, this was the only negative trend in the survey.
The bank’s chief economist, Professor Donald MacRae, said that the “…tentative rise in confidence identified in the previous Business Monitor has been realised with achievement in summer this year of the best quarter’s results since 2007. The summer months have seen a surge in economic activity to pre-recession levels accompanied by rising business expectations for the remainder of the year. If it continues through to December, the Scottish economy should record a year of growth in 2013. Consolidation of the recovery would be enhanced by firms increasing investment.”
The results were welcomed by the Finance Secretary, John Swinney. He said that the the “positive results follow recent labour market and GDP figures which show Scotland is outperforming the UK in terms of employment and growth. Youth employment figures also continue to outperform the UK. Against a backdrop of continuing economic challenges, the Scottish Government is taking action where we can, and we are seeing results, but there is much more that we could be doing with the economic and fiscal powers of independence to strengthen our economy and create jobs.”
Labour’s finance spokesman, Iain Gray, also welcomed good news about the Scottish economy, adding that “we have a duty to look beyond the headline figures to ensure everyone benefits from this recovery. Even this positive report has elements which show how fragile the economic recovery is. What we need is a Scottish Government that is focused on securing that recovery and making sure that everyone in Scotland benefits. Instead we have a Scottish Government that is entirely focused on the referendum and that’s the wrong priority.”