Focus must be on economy not independence, says think tank

Scotland’s economy should be the key issue in the 2021 election rather than Scottish independence, according to a think tank.

A study by Reform Scotland calls for political parties to focus on the economy in the next Holyrood election, arguing it is the “single most important issue” facing the country.

The report concludes the Scottish economy “is now so diverse that greater devolution of power to local authorities is essential for the nation to fulfil its potential”.

Adding to its calls for further powers for councils, the independent think tank suggested they could make changes to council tax at a local level, have full control over non-domestic rates and have the powers to introduce new taxes and elected regional mayors.

Reform Scotland director Chris Deerin said: “We cannot realistically expect our political parties to forget about the constitutional debate as we head towards the 2021 elections.

“However, we should expect them to understand and reflect that the single most important issue facing Scotland is its economic performance.

“Scotland has significant economic strengths and weaknesses.

“Some of those weaknesses are global problems which will largely require global solutions but others are very local problems which, similarly, require very local solutions.”

He added: “Those local solutions are, at present, impossible to access, because Scotland’s local authorities are insufficiently equipped. We talk, frequently, about the devolution of power from Westminster to Holyrood. That devolution should not have stopped at Edinburgh.

“To realise the economic and social potential of all of Scotland, Edinburgh must let go.”