Budget boost for Scottish exports and innovation

SCOTTISH food and drink exports will receive a £1 million funding boost, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in yesterday’s budget.

The move will help companies address US tariffs said Rishi Sunak, delivering his first budget after being appointed Chancellor last month.

The Scottish food and drink sector will be promoted under the GREAT Britain campaign, with the funding helping to ‘increase awareness and change perceptions of Scottish food and drink exports’.

Scottish salmon exports were worth a record £618 million last year, with the US the second biggest market (after France), valued at £179 million.

Other measures in Sunak’s budget that could have an impact on the Scottish aquaculture industry include a big increase in spending on innovation.

Investment in public research and development and cutting-edge technologies will rise to £22 billion a year by 2024-25, said the Chancellor.

Achieving the government’s ambitions on R&D will require investment from the private sector, he added. To boost that investment, the government will increase the rate of R&D tax credits. There will be backing for businesses to invest and innovate so that they can compete in the ‘global technology driven economy’.

The Treasury also pledged to support ‘world leading research in all regions and nations of the UK, including by cutting bureaucracy, experimenting with new funding models, and establishing a new funding agency to focus on high-risk, high-reward research’.

And Sunak added: ‘We’re investing £400 million new funding into high quality research, with much of that funding going to brilliant universities around the country.’

In a separate package of measures, it was announced that Argyll and Bute will benefit to the tune of £25 million from a City and Growth Deal.

And there will also be a boost for rural mobile and broadband services, with £5 million allocated for trials of 5G in Scotland, alongside plans to roll out broadband to hard to reach areas and to expand 4G coverage to almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of the country.

Overall, the budget provides an extra £640 million for the Scottish government, said Sunak, and more than £1.9 billion in additional Barnett consequentials, compared to 2019-20.