SCOTLAND’S economy has bounced back, according to the latest GDP figures, with growth north of the Border now vastly outperforming the UK.

The statistics, published yesterday, show the Scottish economy grew by 0.8 per cent during the first quarter of 2017, its highest rate of quarterly growth in three years.

The stunning rebound, thanks in part to a huge surge in the manufacturing sector, and strong performance from industries linked to North Sea oil, was humiliating for the Tories who had predicted Scotland falling into recession.

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There had been much talk in the days before the statistics were released predicting that the first three months of 2017, would, like the last three months of 2016, see a downturn growth in Scotland, causing a technical recession.

But while the Scottish economy triumphed, it was the Tory government in Westminster’s management of the country’s coffers that suddenly looked patchy, with UK quarterly growth in the first quarter of 2017 at just 0.2 per cent.

Scotland’s Chief Statistician said that on an annual basis, compared to the first quarter of 2016, the Scottish economy grew by 0.7 per cent.

They added that output in the services industry in Scotland grew by 0.3 per cent, production grew by 3.1 per cent and construction contracted by 0.7 per cent.

SNP economy secretary Keith Brown welcomed the figures and said it proved “the fundamentals of Scotland’s economy are strong.”

He added: “Scotland’s output is now six per cent above the pre-recession level and unemployment is at its lowest ever level.

“Since late 2014 our growth rate has been impacted significantly by the fortunes of the North Sea with around two thirds of the slowdown in 2016 attributed to the onshore impact of lower oil prices. Today’s figures show a rise in output in industries linked to the North Sea for the first time since 2014. While there is no room for complacency, these figures — alongside a number of recent business surveys — indicate that there is growing confidence in the sector.

“Manufacturing output is also up, in part due to the resumption of steel production at the Dalzell plant after the Scottish Government intervened to save this key strategic asset. The re-opening of Dalzell is just one of the actions the Scottish Government is taking to boost manufacturing — we are also supporting for expansion of the aluminium smelter at Lochaber and the development of a new manufacturing centre in Renfrewshire.

“While today’s figures are positive, we will continue to do everything possible to support the performance of Scotland’s economy, particularly as Brexit uncertainty continues to cast a shadow over the future economic outlook. The Scottish Government will continue to use all of the powers at our disposal, including our £6.5bn infrastructure plan and our new £500 million Scottish Growth Scheme which opened for bids last month. We will also continue to invest in the doubling of free childcare and offer support for key industries including oil and gas, manufacturing, tourism and new technologies.

“Today’s figures are a welcome vote of confidence in our economy and the Scottish Government will continue to work hard to support it through difficult times ahead.”

Those difficult times almost entirely centre around the impact Brexit, yet to be fully felt, and a possible hike in inflation.

Though the Fraser of Allander institute predicted growth for the rest of 2017, it’s unlikely Brown will be sleeping too soundly.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the figures were “very encouraging”. He said: “The Scottish economy is returning to growth and I am pleased to see that the manufacturing sector in particular is making the most of export opportunities. But, over the year, Scotland has continued to lag behind the UK as a whole - so there is still a lot of work to do.

“The Scottish Government has extensive powers at their disposal to grow and support the economy, and these figures underline the need for our two governments to work together as we prepare to leave the EU.

“Brexit will bring new opportunities. We need to ensure Scottish business can take full advantage.”

Scottish Labour’s economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said the government shouldn’t be to confident: “It is a huge relief that Scotland has avoided recession but this was a narrow escape for our fragile economy”.

“Far from a vote of confidence in the economy, as Economy Secretary Keith Brown has claimed, Scotland is not out of the woods yet”.