It’s crucial Edinburgh bounces back strongly - UK government minister for Scotland Iain Stewart
Edinburgh is without doubt one of the truly great capital cities. The dynamic and cosmopolitan metropolis of today can trace its success to its heritage as the cradle of the Scottish Enlightenment. Back then Edinburgh led the world as a seat of learning and a hotbed of innovation.
Exactly the same applies today. From the seeds of the Enlightenment, Edinburgh’s unrivalled reputation for excellence in medicine, culture, education, scientific discovery, financial expertise and enterprise has blossomed.
Sadly, though, nowhere is immune from the pandemic and Edinburgh’s famous hospitality and tourism sectors are just two of the areas which have been hit hard, with world famous events like the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the festival forced to scale back or cancel.
That’s why it was so important to discuss the challenges facing Edinburgh with business leaders during the first ever joint ministerial round table held between the UK government and the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce yesterday.
The UK government’s key priority is to drive a lasting recovery from the pandemic and this will be done by working with businesses and drawing on the strength of all parts of the United Kingdom. Together we will revive the economy and secure jobs.
It was heartening for Small Business Minister Paul Scully and I to witness the commitment and expertise on display during what will be the first of many meetings between the UK government and the Edinburgh business community.
As government ministers we are keenly aware of the importance of Edinburgh to the wider Scottish and UK economies. The city and surrounding area’s outstanding contribution amounts to more than £33 billion of gross value added (GVA) to the Scottish economy, the equivalent of 30% of the country’s output.
It is crucial Edinburgh bounces back stronger than ever. The UK government will ensure that it does – by delivering ground-breaking projects and jobs through initiatives like the Edinburgh and South East City Region deal, worth £1.3 billion, which has been developed in partnership with the Scottish government, universities and the private sector and the £4.8 billion UK Levelling Up fund which offers an opportunity to regenerate communities and invest in transport, culture and heritage.
Edinburgh firms will be also be able to take advantage of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Help to Grow scheme, supporting leadership in 30,000 small and medium sized businesses across the UK to drive enterprises.
A generous funding package has been put in place to drive economic growth, with the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) replacing EU cash in the post-Brexit era from 2022. Before that our Community Renewal Fund of £220 million is in place to address the immediate Covid challenge .
Our commitment to Scotland’s capital has also been underlined by the completion of the UK Government’s splendid new offices at Queen Elizabeth House, delivering for the people of Scotland.
Iain Stewart is UK government minister for Scotland