Jenny Stewart: Time to tackle Scotland’s productivity

Jenny Stewart
Jenny Stewart

Speak to economists, business leaders and politicians, and the conversation will often come back – again and again – to productivity and how to improve it.   Scotland’s economy is less productive than international competitors and the overall position has barely improved over the last decade.   

Productivity should not be seen as just an abstract, economic term – it is fundamental to how much we earn; how fast our wages grow; and how much we contribute in taxes to fund our public services. In practical terms, if you work in the private sector, recent analysis by the Office for National Statistics suggests you would currently be £5,000 per year better off on average – if productivity growth hadn’t slowed so dramatically since the financial crisis. 

At KPMG, one of our core values is “we seek the facts”.  It is important that action is based on solid, reliable evidence – and progress needs to be tracked over time.  Around 18 months ago, we produced a report comparing productivity across the different nations and regions of the UK – with some key suggested actions for Scotland.

Throughout the last year, I’ve been working with colleagues at the CBI; the Fraser of Allander Institute; and colleagues on our productivity Business Advisory Group to analyse the evidence; look at business practices; and see what specific actions could be taken to accelerate solutions.  We have gathered together business and industry case studies so that experience can be shared. We plan to produce our findings in September and will track progress annually. We hope that we can make a definitive contribution and support real change. It’s time for the country’s business, political and civic leaders to work together to shape this key piece of Scotland’s economic jigsaw. 

Jenny Stewart is a Partner at KPMG UK and Head of Infrastructure, Government and Healthcare in Scotland. 

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