July 22, 2014
by John Swinney
I am delighted to have the opportunity to welcome business leaders from around the Commonwealth to Glasgow ahead of what promises to be a phenomenal Games.
The opportunity the Games bring and the significant economic legacy they are already delivering is something this government is determined to see Scotland make the most of. And I want to work with all countries to extend that economic legacy across the Commonwealth.
It’s thrilling to think after years of planning, we are only moments away from hosting the biggest multi-sport and cultural event Scotland has ever hosted. And with over 50 National Legacy 2014 Programmes, I am delighted with our achievements so far.
With our partners we have undertaken one of the most ambitious attempts ever to assess the long term legacy of a Commonwealth Games and published the second in a series of reports measuring the impact of the games earlier this year.
Contrary to expectations, legacy can happen before the event takes place. Over the last 12 months we’ve seen:
- Over 800 young people starting on an events-related modern apprenticeship;
- Over 250,000 children benefiting from the Game On Scotland programme;
- 5.5 million pounds awarded by BIG Lottery to help communities get more active;
- 110 projects supported by the Active Places Fund, helping build and improve community facilities across Scotland;
- More than 750 teachers trained to support disabled young people in P.E.; and
- Scottish companies secured around 70% of the contracts associated with the Games.
And that’s before we get to the infrastructure improvements around the Glasgow. That’s more than £250 million, going to more than 400 companies across Scotland. It creates a lasting benefit for those 400 businesses, and the communities in which they are based.
We recognise that there are also huge opportunities to grow Scotland’s role in the global event sector, both within Scotland and overseas. Our tourism strategy recognises that events are one of Scotland’s key assets, contributing to a sector worth 4.3 billion pounds.
We plan to capitalise on the venues, infrastructure, business, volunteering and skills base which have been developed through the Games.
In 2014 we are already half way thought our year of homecoming – almost 600 events have already taken place. We will follow the games by playing host to the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in September and in November – the Hydro, constructed for the Games and already ranked the 3rd most popular music venue in the world this year in terms of ticket sales, will host the MTV Europe Music awards.
We are confident that 2014 will be even bigger and better. We are confident that Scotland is well placed to compete on a global stage for major events in the future.
Scotland’s trade ambitions remains high – Scotland currently has £1.8 billion of exports to the Commonwealth – excluding almost £50 billion to the rest of the UK – and we aim to significantly strengthen these economic links.
Trade within and across the Commonwealth as a whole is estimated at £300 billion a year. The Commonwealth is an established and enduring network which provides a platform for future cooperation in a rapidly changing global landscape. Working together we have a huge opportunity to increase exports, investment, and our collective prosperity across the Commonwealth.
We are proud of all that Scotland has contributed to the world. We want to contribute more in the future and with a strong economy we can do that.
We are firmly focused on sustainable economic growth which delivers for all – this lies at the heart of the Economic Strategy the Scottish Government has followed since 2007.
And it is delivering for Scotland with the most recent GDP statistics showing that the 1% growth achieved in Q1 2014 means that output in Scotland’s economy has now reached record levels.
On education and skills, we have taken decisions to establish free higher and further education tuition, promoted the Opportunities for All initiative to give direction to young people, and resurrected the Modern Apprenticeships programme.
Through Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise we have been able to grow our key sectors, and through the work of Scottish Development International we have been able to consistently punch above our weight on foreign direct investment indicators.
Our business rates relief package continues to support our businesses and makes Scotland the best place to do business in the UK. Our Small Business Bonus Scheme has reduced or removed business rates taxation for over 92,000 business premises and we have legislated to maintain the scheme for the lifetime of the Parliament.
Over the next ten days athletes and competitors from across the Commonwealth will show us what is possible with ambition, determination and hard work.
They will show us what can be achieved by constantly focussing on what we can do better and how we can improve. That is a lesson for all of us. It is the approach we must take in government, in business and as a country. Let’s begin today.