Building A New Scotland: A Stronger Economy

The Scottish Government has published the third policy paper in its “Building A New Scotland” series, setting out the economic case for an independent Scotland.

It’s a plan for a brighter future amid the constant crisis at Westminster and a Tory cost-of-living crisis that’s inflicting misery on so many people.

Independence is essential for:

✅ Securing full democratic power for Scotland
✅ Rejoining the European Union
✅ Greater workers’ rights and improved wages
✅ Ending age discrimination for those on the minimum wage
✅ A migration policy tailored to Scotland’s unique needs
✅ £20bn investment through the Building a New Scotland Fund

We’ve put together this handy summary explaining what independence would mean, answering the key questions, and distilling the Scottish Government’s paper into key takeaways.

What independence would mean for people who live in Scotland

As an independent country, Scotland will always get the governments and policies it votes for, instead of being left at the mercy of damaging Westminster Tory governments – which Scotland hasn’t voted since the 1950s.

It would also give us the full powers needed to build an economy that works for everyone. This means:

👉 Lower energy prices and more energy security, by increasing our electricity generating capacity and making better use of Scotland’s vast renewable resources.

👉 A fairer working life, with improved access to flexible working, stronger workers’ rights and the end to age-based wage discrimination.

👉 Regaining our European citizenship and the right to study, work and live across the European Union

👉 Retaining free movement across the UK and Ireland, as well as across the EU.

👉 More investment in key infrastructure, like energy-efficient homes, greener transport, better connectivity and more affordable housing – through the £20bn Building A New Scotland Fund.

👉 Being more involved in owning and shaping the economy, with more support for workers’ co-operatives, community ownership of energy, and more control of local assets by local people.

👉 Always getting the governments that Scotland votes for, where Scotland’s vast resources, assets and talent are used to reflect Scotland’s interests. We would no longer have to put up with Westminster Tory governments, imposing damaging policies like Brexit, austerity cuts and a ‘hostile environment’ to migration.

What independence would mean for Scotland’s businesses

As an independent country, Scotland will be able to truly harness our vast renewable energy potential and become an exporting powerhouse. Free from the damage of Brexit and disastrous Tory governments, we would invest in key infrastructure and open up to the world’s largest single market – seven times the size of the UK.

Here’s what this means:

👉 Escaping the decline of Brexit Britain, which the OBR predicted will suffer long-term economic damage that’s twice as bad as the impact of Covid, and result in a long-term fall in productivity.

👉 Having more access to trading opportunities inside the European Single Market, the largest single market in the world – seven times larger than the UK market.

👉 Getting practical, active support to ensure smooth trade across borders, including with the UK and to Europe.

👉 A higher productivity, higher investment economy that’s only possible with the full powers of independence, and that’s achieved by comparable independent countries, who outperform the UK on every measure.

👉 Lower energy prices and secure energy supplies, through increased, better, and greener use of Scotland’s abundant natural energy resources.

👉 Getting the workers that businesses need, by reversing Scotland’s long-term population decline, regaining access to talented and committed workers from the EU, and ending Westminster’s damaging “hostile environment” approach.

👉 Working in close partnership with the government through new bodies, like the Scottish Fair Pay Commission which will assume responsibility for setting the national minimum wage.

What independence would mean for Scotland

As an independent country, Scotland’s potential will no longer be held back by Westminster control. We’ll be able to build a more prosperous, greener and fairer society, just like comparable neighbouring countries in Europe.

Here’s what this means:

👉 Growing our economy to the standard of our comparable European independent countries, whose national incomes are, on average, £14,000 per person higher than in Scotland.

👉 Escaping the instability and chaos generated by the current UK Government’s reckless approach to managing the economy.

👉 Playing our full part in the world and regaining our European citizenship, with more access to markets and the ability to live, work, study and travel in 27 EU countries.

👉 Having a migration policy tailored to our needs, growing our working population, and boosting productivity – which, under Westminster control, is lagging behind countries comparable to Scotland.

👉 Taking advantage of our massive renewable energy resources, ensuring cheaper energy for people and businesses, gaining energy security, and creating tens of thousands of new jobs.

👉 Greater security for Scotland’s workforce, by ending wage discrimination, strengthening workers’ rights and repealing Westminster’s anti-trade union laws.

We would create better, fairer working conditions and improved wages

In an independent Scotland, the government would play an active role in shaping a labour market that delivers better conditions and better wages.

We would scrap the anti-trade union legislation introduced by the Tories, recognising that strong and active trade unions help to build a stronger, fairer country.

After independence, Scotland would have a single rate for the national minimum wage, one that better reflects the cost of living, with no lower rates for younger workers – ending the wage discrimination overseen by UK governments.

We would improve access to flexible working, making sure parents and carers have more choice over how to balance caring and employment responsibilities.

How would we ensure people have better protections at work?

We would ensure all workers would be entitled to a written statement of their status and conditions from their first day at work – helping to prevent exploitation of workers, especially in the ‘gig economy’.

We would ban ‘fire and rehire’ – ending the unfair practices of employers making workers redundant and offering to rehire on reduced wages and conditions.

We would ensure statutory public holidays can no longer be counted in the statutory minimum leave requirements – giving workers more clarity on their annual leave, and also ensuring that flexible and casual workers get the annual leave they’re entitled to.

And when circumstances allow, independent Scottish Governments can introduce higher statutory sick pay and parental leave, to at least match the OECD average. Right now, the UK has the lowest statutory sick pay among OECD nations.

We would invest in key infrastructure with the £20bn Building A New Scotland Fund

Independence is about unlocking opportunities for Scotland, and to do that, we would introduce the Building A New Scotland Fund – spending up to £20 billion over the first decade of independence.

The fund would reinvest revenues from oil and gas, along with other windfall incomes, to make Scotland more productive – getting Scotland off to as strong a start as possible, and laying the foundation to a fair, dynamic, net-zero economy.

What are some of the examples of the investments through the Building A New Scotland Fund?

✅ Decarbonising Scotland’s housing, so we can cut fuel bills, tackle fuel poverty and replace gas boilers with greener systems.
✅ Improved energy security and greater domestic supply – with new pump storage hydro projects, and the acceleration of hydrogen production, transportation and storage.
✅ Improving digital connectivity for remote, rural and island communities.
✅ Improving transport links and decarbonising our public transport network.
✅ Building more affordable homes and helping to address population decline in rural areas.

How would we make use of Scotland’s vast energy resources and secure lower bills?

Scotland is an energy-rich nation. In 2021, Scotland generated enough renewable electricity to power all households in Scotland for three years, and exported electricity with an estimated value of £2.4 billion.

Scotland’s massive renewable energy resources can be the bedrock of a new independent economy, but under Westminster control, the Scottish Government has no powers over the electricity market.

This means that currently we’re unable to influence how electricity is traded and how we provide security of supply, which impacts the bills we all pay.

With independence, Scotland can truly harness our huge renewables potential – ensuring we can generate enough cheap, clean electricity to power homes and businesses in Scotland, but also to export it and boost public finances.

ScotWind, the world’s largest offshore wind leasing round, has already put Scotland at the forefront of the global development of the offshore wind sector – but we could develop so much further with independence.

What currency would an independent Scotland use?

Right after independence, Scotland would continue to use the pound sterling for a period, before conditions are favourable and it’s in Scotland’s best interests to move to a Scottish pound.

The change would take place as soon as practicable through a careful, managed and responsible transition.

This does not require any formal agreement with the Westminster Government. Sterling has been the legal currency in Scotland for centuries and is internationally traded.

How would an independent Scotland ensure stability?

On day one of independence, the Scottish Government would have full autonomy to take decisions over tax, spending and borrowing to meet Scotland’s needs.

An independent Scotland will keep in place all the existing arrangements for pensions, deposit accounts, and contracts, but they would be governed by Scottish institutions instead.

Taking a fiscally sustainable approach is fundamental, as it would establish the credibility of Scotland’s policies and ensure Scotland can borrow at the lowest possible interest rate, to make sure we can invest more effectively.

While ensuring that debt is managed sustainably, an independent Scotland would do away with the UK’s failed austerity approach.

Our approach would still permit the government of an independent Scotland to properly support public services – and borrow for investment, which we’re unable to do without the powers of independence.

What new institutions would have to be established?

Scotland already has many key institutions that did not exist in 2014.

Since then, we have established new institutions such as the Scottish Fiscal Commission, Revenue Scotland and the Scottish National Investment Bank which are all operating, and the Scottish Government already manages money in devolved areas.

The main new institution to be established would be a Scottish Central Bank. It would operate independently of the Government and be given a clear mandate, initially focusing on ensuring financial stability.

The Central Bank would also report on the economic criteria and conditions for moving to a Scottish pound.

Ultimately, the decision would be up to the democratically elected, independent Scottish Parliament.

We would regain our European citizenship, boost trade and open our borders with Europe

Under the Scottish Government’s plans, an independent Scotland would apply to re-join the European Union.

The economic opportunities of re-joining the EU, and the largest single market in the world, as a member state in our own right are potentially enormous.

According to the most recent data, the value of Scotland’s manufactured goods exports to the EU (£19bn) is a lot higher than the value of Scotland’s exports to the UK (£11bn).

The EU is also the world’s largest free trading bloc. While the EU is the top trading partner for 80 countries, the UK’s hard Brexit is damaging trade both within and outwith the EU, hurting Scotland’s businesses.

As an independent country, Scotland would have a new government ministry with specific trade-related responsibilities, including the promotion of Scottish exports – as well as a dedicated network of overseas missions across the world, promoting Scotland as a place to invest in.

Would we be able to travel freely across the UK, as well as the EU?

Under an arrangement called the Common Travel Area (CTA) Scotland would retain freedom of movement within the British Isles, just like Ireland does.

Being in the Common Travel Area allows for free movement between the UK and Ireland – and means there would be no new passport or immigration checks at any of an independent Scotland’s land, sea or air border points with the UK and Ireland.

It would also mean that British and Irish citizens who live in Scotland would have retain the rights to live, work, and access services including housing, education and healthcare – and the same for citizens of an independent Scotland living in the UK and Ireland.

Because of Brexit, there would be some checks required on goods between Scotland and the rest of the UK, but people in Scotland would move freely between the UK, Ireland and the wider EU.

Additionally, as EU citizens, Scotland’s people would also be able to live, work, trade, and travel in 27 European countries.

How would businesses be supported with new trading arrangements?

After Brexit, traders had only days to prepare for new trading rules before they came into effect – which caused chaos and delays for many, and resulted in layers of paperwork hampering the businesses’ ability to operate.

In contrast, the Scottish Government will plan ahead, actively notify businesses and provide support on the ground to help traders understand and comply with new trading arrangements.

This would mean advice and guidance available to businesses through websites, helplines and support sessions.

The independent Scottish Government would also establish a support service for exporters, and help with paperwork and administrative requirements.

A brighter, fairer, greener future is possible

Independence within the European Union offers Scotland a real opportunity to grow and modernise our economy.

If Scotland chooses independence, we can build a fairer, greener country and truly empower the people who live in Scotland – instead of putting up with the chaos and damage of Westminster governments.

As part of the world’s largest single market, we could seize economic and social benefits, remove barriers to trade and seek to replicate the success of comparable independent European countries, which are outperforming the UK on every measure.

We can develop a more open and welcoming immigration system, with freedom of movement and more flexibility for people and business.

We can deliver a greener economy, building on our significant natural resources to maximise the economic and social benefits of the move to net zero.

And we can have a fairer labour market, with improvements to wages and workers’ rights.

All of that is within our reach – but it’s up to you to help win that future for Scotland.

If you haven’t yet, join over 500,000 people in Scotland and pledge your support for independence.

Click here to find out how you can get involved in the Yes campaign

And watch this video setting out why independence works for countries similar to Scotland. Pass it on and share it with 5 friends or family members.