SNP’s independence plans put 50,000 jobs at risk
3 Apr 2014
Business in Scotland worried about the consequences of the SNP’s independence plans have warned 50,000 jobs could be affected.
The Weir Group, with 600 workers north of the border, today became the latest in a long list of firms to say that separation would result in increased taxes and significant public spending cuts.
It comes after Standard Life said thousands of jobs may have to be moved south, while RBS has expressed concerns that separation would affect their “credit ratings”, which could have a knock-on effect for customers paying mortgages and loans.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today dismissed the warnings from the Weir Group, claiming they were based on a separate Scotland not keeping the pound.
But Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson accused her of misrepresenting the Glasgow firm’s position, saying their concerns are based on “any currency scenario”.
Other business organisations, including the CBI, Scottish Financial Enterprise, Scottish Engineering and ICAS, who represent more than half a million workers, have also warned of the consequences independence could have on their business operations.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP said:
“Some of Scotland’s biggest employers and job creators have raised legitimate concerns about the major impact independence would have on our economy.
“With 50,000 workers on their books in Scotland alone, the SNP can no longer be so dismissive over their warnings about separating us from our biggest market.
“That figure does not include the concerns expressed by umbrella organisations like the CBI, Scottish Engineering and ICAS, representing more than half-a-million workers here.
“The SNP’s plan to break-up Britain is affecting real jobs and families across the country, yet the Nationalists’ stock response is to dismiss people or shout them down.
“Scotland is enjoying high levels of growth as part of the UK, but Nicola Sturgeon and her party are determined to tear that apart in pursuit of their independence obsession.
“Let’s be clear, business has a right to be heard and business leaders say independence is a threat to jobs and growth.”
Businesses which have expressed concern over independence and the number of workers they have based in Scotland:
Shell – 2,500
BP – 2,500
BAE Systems – 3,600
Standard Life – 5,000
RBS – 12,000
Lloyds – 17,000
Aggreko – 575
Barrhead – 800
Scottish Widows – 3,000
Blackrock – 550
White House Products – 22
Alliance Trust – 200
Mackies – 60
Babcock – 1,700
Weir Group – 600
TOTAL: 50,107 employees
CBI – Represents 240,000 employers employing at least 500,000 in Scotland
Scottish Tourism Alliance represents 225 businesses in Scotland.
Scottish Engineering – 400 companies
ICAS – 10,600 members
Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE) – 88 firms employing 200,000 people (NOTE: this includes Standard Life, RBS, Lloyds, Scottish Widows, Blackrock and Alliance Trust)
TOTAL: 710,600 employees and 713 businesses
In today’s 80-page report from the Weir Group, it concludes that under any currency scenario, it is likely an independent Scotland would face increased borrowing costs; increased taxes and significant spending cuts.
All of which would have an impact (on) businesses and households.
Alex Salmond previously dismissed business concerns as scaremongering:
David Nish, Chief Executive:
As a large company and employer based in Scotland, we have been following the constitutional debate ahead of the independence referendum on 18 September 2014.
We have a long-standing policy of strict political neutrality and at no time will we advise people on how they should vote. However, we have a duty and a responsibility to understand the implications of independence for our four million UK customers, our shareholders, our people and other stakeholders in our business and take whatever action is necessary to protect their interests.
For this reason, we have engaged with key politicians and analysed the relevant papers published by both sides of the independence debate. These include the Scottish Government publication Scotland’s Future (the ‘White Paper’) and the UK Government’s Scotland Analysis series.
At the time of publishing this report (February 2014), we believe a number of material issues remain uncertain. These include:
• The currency that an independent Scotland would use
• Whether agreement and ratification of an independent Scotland’s membership to the European Union would be achieved by the target date (currently 24 March 2016)
• The shape and role of the monetary system
• The arrangements for financial services regulation and consumer protection in an independent Scotland
• The approach to individual taxation, especially around savings and pensions, as a consequence of any constitutional change
We will continue to seek clarity on these matters, but uncertainty is likely to remain. In view of this, there are steps we will take based on our analysis of the risks. For example, we have started work to establish additional registered companies to operate outside Scotland, into which we could transfer parts of our operations if it was necessary to do so. This is a precautionary measure to ensure continuity of our businesses’ competitive position and to protect the interests of our stakeholders.
As Chief Executive, my commitment is whatever happens we will continue to serve the needs of our customers and maintain our competitive position.
RBS annual report:
During 2013, the focus on the question of potential Scottish independence from the UK has heightened and the Scottish government will be holding a referendum in September 2014.
A vote in favour of Scottish independence would be likely to significantly impact the Group’s credit ratings and
could also impact the fiscal, monetary, legal and regulatory landscape to which the Group is subject. Were Scotland to become independent, it may also affect Scotland’s status in the EU.