Common Weal congratulate Scottish Government on plans for a Scottish National Investment Bank, but say “devil will be in the detail”

Common Weal has been campaigning for a investment bank for Scotland for 3 years

THE Common Weal has congratulated the Scottish Government on its announcement that it will begin an implementation plan on a Scottish National Investment Bank, but say "the devil is in the detail" as to how effective it will be.

The announcement comes after three years of campaigning for the initiative by Common Weal, along with Friends of the Earth Scotland and New Economics Foundation, including two reports (here and here). The proposal was backed at the SNP’s conference in March, and has been advocated for at the First Minster’s Council of Economic Advisers.

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the work during her Programme for Government, in which she said the bank would provide patient capital and support innovation. Sturgeon said that a full implementation plan on “the remit, governance, operating model and approach to the robust management of financial risk” of the bank would be led by Tesco Bank CEO Benny Higgins, including discussions with the UK Government over the effective operation of the bank.

Commenting on the announcement, Common Weal Director Robin McAlpine said: “This is a much more substantial agenda for government and has a number of genuinely promising ideas in it. In particular, we’ve been campaigning for a Scottish National Investment Bank for three years and we’re delighted this is now going ahead.

"It is now crucial that this programme is pursued with vigour and that focus goes onto designing the details in a way that delivers maximum impact for communities across Scotland. For example, it’s important that the national investment bank is there to level the playing field for Scottish businesses competing with the likes of Tesco and that we don’t replicate the Tesco model.”

“There are still many aspects of the proposals that are unknown. The most important of these is around scale and scope: will the new institution be granted substantive borrowing powers so that it can invest on the scale required to transform Scotland’s economy? And what does the government want the bank to invest in?” Laurie Macfarlane

Laurie Macfarlane, economist and author of Blueprint for a Scottish National Investment Bank, said of the announcement:

“Today’s announcement of a new Scottish National Investment Bank is a welcome step forward. As we have long argued, meeting the challenges of the twenty-first century requires patient, long-term, committed finance – something that Scotland desperately lacks 

“There are still many aspects of the proposals that are unknown. The most important of these is around scale and scope: will the new institution be granted substantive borrowing powers so that it can invest on the scale required to transform Scotland’s economy? And what does the government want the bank to invest in? A national investment bank has the potential to be truly transformative, but as ever the devil will be in the detail.”