Committee calls for action to support fragile supply chains

Claire Baker MSP, Convener of the Economy and Fair Work Committee

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THE Scottish Parliament’s Economy and Fair Work Committee has published a report into Scotland’s supply chains, calling for much more to be done to build resilience and protect against future shocks.

The Committee’s report outlines how the Covid-19 pandemic and the UK’s exit from the EU have placed significant strain on Scotland’s supply chains. This is contributing to labour and raw material shortages, extended delivery times and rising prices.

The report makes a range of longer-term recommendations regarding people, places and products, but asks for immediate action to be taken in some key areas.

Evidence in the report highlights the shortage of HGV drivers and the difficulties there are in filling these vacancies.  There is a lack of support for HGV drivers while transport and logistics are often not seen as good career choices. While the report welcomes the Scottish Government’s proposals to improve facilities for HGV drivers, it calls for the Scottish Government to take further action to improve the attractiveness of jobs and careers in this sector and calls on the UK Government to state whether they intend to extend relaxations on working restrictions and visa requirements to ease pressures.

The Committee heard how raw material shortages are impacting Scotland’s construction industry. The report calls for increases in local production of materials where possible and the strengthening of local supply chains, bringing investment to local businesses and communities while also recognising the  environmental benefits. The report calls on the Scottish Government lead by example and  include carbon miles in its criteria for public building projects, to encourage production using locally sourced materials.

The Committee also heard that a lack of knowledge of future planned major public projects hinders the development of Scottish supply chains, creating a bottleneck for firms making investment decisions, hindering growth and the development of Scottish products.  While it welcomes the introduction of the Construction Pipeline Forecast Tool, there must be greater effort to publicise this resource and provide clarity as early as possible to industry on the nature and volume of public projects.

Reflecting on the report, Claire Baker MSP, Convener of the Economy and Fair Work Committee said:

“Disruption to supply chains, unforeseen or otherwise, can have a major impact and we need to ensure action is taken to create resilience and protect our economy.

“Many businesses, public bodies and consumers rely on strong supply chains. We are making recommendations to plan for a skilled workforce to meet Scotland’s needs, a robust transport network which keeps goods moving and a focus on developing and implementing local supply chains.

“The Scottish Government must show leadership in supporting the development of innovative products, including changes to building regulations if required to incentive sustainable alternatives.  Procurement contracts must be used to support local production and provide more opportunities to strengthen supply chain.  The Committee also calls on the Scottish Government to focus the proceeds from the Scotwind auction to support the development of supply chains in the renewable energy sector and the new technologies necessary to deliver a just transition.”

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