Growing the Scottish Economy


Developing a Knowledge Economy in Scotland: Lessons from the Operation of the LINK Programme

Cuthbert, M.:  Fraser of Allander Institute Quarterly Economic Commentary, (2001).
This paper highlights significant weaknesses with the operation of the LINK programme in Scotland, which limit the extent to which Scottish industry actually benefits from the programme.

download this paper


Higher Education Numbers and Funding in Scotland

Cuthbert, J.R., Cuthbert, M.: Scottish Affairs no 34, (2001).

Analysis of SHEFC data which is fairly technical, but raises serious questions about the quality and efficiency of parts of the higher education sector.
download this paper

A Risk Too Far

Cuthbert, J.R., Cuthbert, M.:  Scottish Left Review, Issue 9: (March/April 2002).
Critique of the Public Finance Initiative, suggesting an alternative approach, based on unbundling contracts, and public service trusts.
download this paper

The Fifth European Framework Programme: A Comparison of Scotland and Ireland Involvement

Cuthbert, J.R., Cuthbert, M.:  Fraser of Allander Institute Quarterly Economic Commentary, Vol 28, No 2: (June, 2003).

Demonstrates how Scotland fails to benefit as fully as Ireland from this important programme: and gives some pointers as to where improvements could be made.

download this paper

See also accompanying chart.


Customs and Excise Regional Trade Statistics: a Note

Cuthbert, M., Cuthbert, J.R: Fraser of Allander Institute Quarterly Economic Commentary, Vol 28, No 3: (October, 2003).
A note on a fairly technical issue: but important for two reasons:-
(a) despite imperfections in the data, the import data does show the importance of non-EU imports for Scotland, which is relevant to the debate on Scotland’s position relative to Euro entry.
(b) demonstrates the poor quality of this data: this is an area where real data improvements are required.

download this paper

Science and Technology in Devolved Scotland: the Example of the Scottish Agricultural and Biological Research Institutes
Cuthbert, M., Cuthbert, J.R: Fraser of Allander Institute Quarterly Economic Commentary, Vol 29: No 3: (November, 2004).

Uses the example of problems with the SABRIs to illustrate the more general problem of how to manage the UK science base in the context of devolution.
download this paper

Atomised Science
Cuthbert, J.R., Cuthbert, M.: Scottish Left Review, Issue 27: (March/April 2005).
Another take on science policy under devolution.
download this paper


Incapacitated Scotland

Cuthbert, M., Cuthbert, J.R: Scottish Left Review, Issue 33: (March/April 2006).

Highlights the necessity of supplementing current reform of incapacity benefit with effective action on local economic regeneration.
download this paper


The Scottish Enterprise Overspend: Getting to the Roots of the Problem

Cuthbert, M., Cuthbert, J.R:  article in Sunday Herald, 11 June 2006.

Identifies mistakes made by the Scottish Executive in introducing Resource Accounting and Budgeting as a significant contributory factor to the Scottish Enterprise overspend.

download this paper


The Need for Improvements in Public Responsibility and Accountability in Scotland

Cuthbert, M.:  Scottish Left Review, Issue 35: (July/August 2006).

This note highlights the need for an improved economic strategy for Scotland.

download this paper


Mismanagement: The Need for Change

Cuthbert, J.R., Cuthbert, M.:  Scots Independent, Special Edition, Spring 2007.

Lists examples of the mismanagement of the Scottish economy and public finances, and highlights the need for change.

download this paper


How Public Contracts Could Help the Economy

Cuthbert, M., Cuthbert, J.R.:  Scots Independent, Issue 941, July 1st, 2007.

Describes how changes to public procurement practices could play a significant role in helping to revitalise Scotland's economy: and the changes recommended here could be carried out by the new Executive in Scotland without legislation.

download this paper


Lessons to be Drawn from London's Failure

Cuthbert, J.R., Cuthbert, M.:  Scots Independent, Issue 957, November, 2008.

Argues that the economic crisis we are currently suffering in the UK derives from the failure of the London model of political and financial organisation: and that our chances of developing a more satisfactory alternative are much better if problems are approached from a Scottish, rather than a London, perspective.

download this paper


Yes We Can

Cuthbert, M., Cuthbert, J.R.:  Scots Independent, Issue 958, December, 2008.

Following on from the preceding article, considers what steps the Scottish Government could undertake now, within its existing powers, to help the Scottish economy.

download this paper


Bausch and Lomb Highlights Weakness in Present System

Cuthbert, M., Cuthbert, J.R.: Scots Independent, Issue 968, October, 2009.

The recent loss of the Bausch and Lomb plant highlights our inability, under the present constitutional settlement, to protect strategic Scottish industries.

download this paper


SNP Economic Strategy: Neo-liberalism with a Heart

Cuthbert, J.R., Cuthbert, M.: Chapter 9 in the book "The Modern SNP: From Protest to Power", edited by Gerry Hassan, published by Edinburgh University Press, October 2009.

We argue in this chapter that the SNP  government faces a triple challenge in implementing its economic strategy. First, it has to demonstrate its competence in managing the economy: second, it has at the same time to convince the electorate that Scotland's economic performance is handicapped by the current constitutional settlement: and finally, it has to paint a convincing vision of how an independent Scotland could prosper economically. We argue that the SNP has underperformed on each leg of this challenge: and we suggest some of the ways forward.

download this paper


Now's the Time - To Advance our Thinking on Economic Strategy

Cuthbert, J.R., Cuthbert, M.:  Scots Independent, Issue 969, November, 2009.

This article briefly summarises our critique of the SNP's economic policy, as published in our chapter in Gerry Hassan's book, (see above). However, our main purpose in the article is to set out some of the parameters which should govern the re-think on economic strategy which, we argue, is now required.

download this paper


How to Use Tax Policies Effectively: Lessons from Abroad

Cuthbert, M., Cuthbert, J.R.: Scots Independent, Issue 972, February, 2010.

This paper discusses a report produced by the OECD on how different countries have used fiscal policies to stimulate their economies in the current economic crisis. This illustrates how unimaginitive the UK's use of fiscal policy has been relative to other countries: and how handicapped the Scottish government is given its lack of fiscal powers.

download this paper


Using Public Expenditure to Help the Scottish Economy

Cuthbert, M., Cuthbert, J.R.: Scots Independent, Issue 978, August 2010.

This is the second of two articles prompted by the Osborne budget. The article outlines a number of ways in which existing public expenditure programmes can be better used to help the economy, and so reduce the adverse effects of the coming cuts.

download this paper


What the Beveridge Review Neglected

Cuthbert, J. R., Cuthbert, M.: Published as “Forget Beveridge: Put Scotland First on the Economy”, Sunday Herald, 15 August 2010.
Argues that a major failure in the Beveridge report, (considering options for public expenditure cuts), is the extent to which the panel neglected the economic development aspect of their remit. We suggest that there is substantial scope for improving the Scottish economy by altering the way capital investment and public procurement is carried out.

download this paper


How more needs to be done so that central and local government procurement helps the Scottish Economy

Cuthbert, M., Cuthbert, J. R.: Scots Independent, Issue 980, October 2010.
Examines the procurement undertaken by the Scottish government itself and by the 32 local authorities in Scotland: and gives evidence to show that a narrow concentration on value for money is damaging the Scottish economy.

download this paper


Procurement – From Complexities to Opportunity

Cuthbert, J. R., Cuthbert, M.: Powerpoint presentation of talk given at Scottish Construction Forum, 9 November 2010.

Our talk to the Construction Forum argued that many of the Government’s procurement procedures have adverse effects for Scottish industry. The Scottish Government Procurement Directorate later responded, not very constructively: their response can be accessed here.

download this paper


Using our Buying Power to Benefit Scotland- the Case for Change.

Cuthbert, Jim and Margaret: Jimmy Reid Foundation Report, published 6 February 2012.

This paper concerns the economic and social development potential of public procurement in Scotland. The amount of money spent on our behalf by devolved public bodies in Scotland was £9.2 billion in 2009-10. The paper concludes that many aspects of the present system are not working well, and makes a number of positive suggestions for improvement.

download this paper

How We Can Get Government Spending to Do More for Us: 1.

Cuthbert, M., Cuthbert, J. R.: Scots Independent, Issue 997, March 2012.

This is the first of two articles in the Scots Independent, reporting on our recent Reid Foundation report on procurement.

download this paper

How We Can Get Government Spending to Do More for Us: 2.

Cuthbert, J. R., Cuthbert, M.: Scots Independent, Issue 998, April 2012.

This is the second of two articles in the Scots Independent, reporting on our recent Reid Foundation report on procurement.

download this paper

TIF: Is the Finance Tail Wagging the Dog?

Cuthbert, M., Cuthbert, J. R.: Scots Independent, Issue 999, May 2012.

Discusses, and raises a number of concerns about, the new tax incremental funding method for raising capital for public infrastructure investment, which is being developed in Scotland by the Scottish Futures Trust.

download this paper

Public Procurement Problems

Jim and Margaret Cuthbert: Scottish Policy Now online magazine: Issue 3, July 2012.

Summarises the main findings from our Reid Foundation report on Procurement, (see above), and then draws some important further conclusions which have become apparent from discussions following the publication of the original report.

download this paper

Patronising and Misguided

Cuthbert, J.R., Cuthbert, M.:Scots Independent, Issue 1000, June 2012.

This is a response to a patronising article and front cover in the “Economist”, which described Scotland as “Skintland”.

download this paper

Response to Scottish Government’s Procurement Reform Bill Consultation

Cuthbert, J. R.: November 2012.

Argues that there are flaws in the Scottish Government’s current approach to procurement. In particular, a de facto strategy seems to be emerging, whereby large contracts are let to big firms. The involvement of smaller firms is then restricted to a sub-contracting role: this is unlikely to be optimal from the point of view of growing the economy.

download this paper

Response to Scottish Government’s Procurement Reform Bill Consultation

Cuthbert, M.: November 2012.

Points to a number of flaws with the current procurement strategy, and argues that, in order to improve the role of public procurement in helping economic growth, the Procurement Bill should have economic growth as its principal driver.

download this paper


Is there a Road for Scotland Towards Fundamental Improvements in Society?

Cuthbert, J.R., Cuthbert, M.:  Chapter 6 in book “Time to Choose”, edited by Gregor Gall, Scottish Left Review Press, May 2013.

This article is concerned with the question of how to achieve social progress in the face of opposition from key vested interests. It concludes that fundamental change is unlikely within the UK context: but that an independent Scotland might be able to move forward.

download this paper

The UK Economy: a strong and secure UK?

Cuthbert, M.: paper published as "The Dysfunctional UK Economy" by Jimmy Reid Foundation, May 2013.

This paper examines the economic performance of Scotland against that of other parts of the UK, and against a set of European competitor countries of fairly similar size. It concludes that the UK has not been operating as an optimal currency area, and that it would not be advantageous for Scotland, in the long term, to continue to form a monetary union with the rest of the UK.

download this paper


Economic Policy Options for an Independent Scotland

Cuthbert, J.R., Cuthbert, M.: report published jointly by Options for Scotland and the Jimmy Reid Foundation, 9 September, 2013.

This paper examines economic policy options in 14 different areas which would be open to an independent Scottish government.

download this paper


How the very method used by IFS intrinsically biases the debate on Scottish independence

Cuthbert, J.R., Cuthbert, M.: Sunday Herald, 24 November 2013.

Examines flaws in the Institute of Fiscal Studies report looking at the impact of demographic trends on Scotland’s public finances.

download this paper

Inquiry into Scotland’s Economic Future Post 2014

Cuthbert, J.R., Cuthbert, M.: Written evidence submitted to Inquiry by Scottish Parliament Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee: January 2014.
Looks at Scotland’s economic prospects, under three different possibilities: Namely, a) a “No” vote in the 2014 referendum, followed by the constitutional status quo: b) a “Yes” vote, followed by implementation of the proposals in the Scottish Government’s White Paper: and c) complete independence from the rest of the UK.
download this paper


Fact File on Labour Market and Social Security

Cuthbert, M., Cuthbert, J.R.: published here, 6 September 2014.

This factfile provides a user-friendly source for a range of data relevant to the labour market and social security. It has been compiled mainly from official data sources.

go to factfile home page


UK Benefits Crisis

Cuthbert, J. R. Cuthbert, M: published on Bella Caledonia, 8 September 2014.

This article draws upon some of the material in the above factfile: it illustrates the dire effects which present UK policies on employment, tax and benefits are having: shows how these policies could be positively transformed under independence: but argues that this transformation is impossible under the union.

download this paper


Buying Power

Cuthbert, M., Cuthbert J. R.: published on Bella Caledonia, 4 November 2014.

Shows how poor supermarkets in Scotland are at promoting Scottish brands, as compared with, for example, the situation in Ireland: and considers what could be done about this.

download this paper



Cuthbert, J. R., Cuthbert, M.: published in Holyrood Magazine, 19 January 2015.

Argues that a key risk for Scotland in 2015 is a forced rise in UK interest rates, as events expose the implausibility of OBR forecasts of the UK economy.

download this paper

The Power of Supermarkets over the UK Supply Chain

Cuthbert, M., Cuthbert, J. R.: published on Bella Caledonia, 4 March 2015.
Argues that Westminster is failing to grapple adequately with abuse of power by the supermarkets.

download this paper

A Note on Business Statistics, Scotland

Cuthbert, M: paper for meeting of Scottish Economic Statistics Consultative Group on 24 March 2015.

Discusses a number of current issues as regards business statistics in Scotland.

download this paper

Trade Promotion – another area for our new MPs to attend to

Cuthbert, M., Cuthbert, J. R.: published on Bella Caledonia, 13 May 2015.
Looks at the deficiencies in the service Scotland gets from the UK department of Trade and Investment, in the important area of trade promotion.

download this paper


Growing the Scottish economy: are we well served on international trade and development?

Cuthbert, M., Cuthbert, J. R.: Published in Scottish Left Review: Issue 88, July/August 2015.

Looks at how well the agencies responsible for international trade and development are working together. Concludes that there is a lack of relevant information – but on the basis of the evidence available, the different agencies are not well co-ordinated.

download this paper


Growing the Scottish Economy: Is Scotland well served on international trade and development?

Cuthbert, M: Jimmy Reid Foundation paper, published September 2015.

Detailed paper examining whether the current management of trade support agencies is likely to achieve the objectives of the Scottish Government’s economic strategy, and whether the quality of the information is up to the task in hand.

download this paper


Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland

Cuthbert, M., Cuthbert, J. R: published in Scottish Left Review, Issue 90, Nov/Dec 2015.
Considers evidence on the modern apprenticeships programme, which suggests that the programme is not actually providing what is required to transform the Scottish economy.

download this paper


Searching for social justice: managing the Scottish economy

Cuthbert, M:  published in “Is there a Scottish Road to Socialism, 3rd Edition”, ed. G. Gall, Scottish Left Review Press, February 2016.

This chapter asks if we are getting from the Scottish government the joined up thinking necessary for creating a fairer society in Scotland. The answer, unfortunately, is no: and the chapter illustrates how much more could be done, using powers which are already available within the remit of the Scottish government.

download this paper


Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

Cuthbert, M.: published in the National, April 2016.
Examines some of the key issues which need to be resolved if the TTIP agreement is to be signed.

download this paper

How an interview might have gone with the new Minister for the economy

Cuthbert, M.:  Commonspace, 14 and 16 June 2016.
An imaginary interview, published in two parts on Commonspace, and raising serious issues about the conduct of economic policy in Scotland.

download this paper

Why we need to face up to our economic weaknesses urgently

Cuthbert, M.: Commonspace, 24 June.
Looks at some of the problems for Scotland posed by the Brexit vote.
download this paper


Public Procurement in Scotland: The Case for Scrutiny, Accountability and Transparency

Cuthbert, M.:  Common Weal Policy Paper, May 2017.
Shows how increasing secrecy is greatly complicating the process of scrutinising how money is being spent on public procurement. The paper examines some of the resulting problems, and suggests solutions.

download this paper

Six Policies to Transform Britain’s Broken Economy

Jim and Margaret Cuthbert:  published on Open Democracy, 5th June 2017.

Produced just before the June 2017 election, this note sets out a radical agenda which would help to overcome austerity, and get the UK, and Scottish, economies moving again.

download this paper

The SNP’s Economic Strategy: Economic Performance in a Changing Fiscal Context

Jim and Margaret Cuthbert: chapter in the book “A Nation Changed: The SNP and Scotland Ten Years On”: G.Hassan and S. Barrow, eds: Luath Press, July 2017.
This updates the critique of the SNP’s economic policy which we published in October 2009 (see above), in an earlier book edited by Gerry Hassan. In this article we argue that the SNP’s economic strategy has failed to adapt sufficiently, particularly given the radically different situation Scotland now faces with the new fiscal settlement.

download this paper

Scotland's secret finances: How difficult it is to get to the bottom of how public money is spent

Cuthbert, M., Cuthbert, J. R.: Sunday Herald 17 September 2017.

Gives examples to show, in a wide variety of areas covering economic and social matters, and particularly financial matters, it is almost impossible to get appropriate information on how our money is being spent: and suggests what should be done.

download this paper


Enough of the fancy empty words: It’s time for a nuts and bolts tourism strategy

Cuthbert, M.: Published on Commonspace, 21 March 2018.
Argues that, in view of the poor civic amenities available in Scotland for tourists, there needs to be a re-think of Scotland’s tourism strategy.

download this paper


The report of the SNP’s Growth Commission: where is the urgency, and where is the radicalism.

Cuthbert, J. R.: published in The National, 6 June 2018.
Welcomes some aspects of the SNP’s Growth Commission report: but argues that it is insufficiently radical, and too relaxed on timescales.

download this paper

The Growth Commission: naively neo-liberal

Cuthbert, J. R.: Scottish Left Review, Issue 106, July 2018.
Argues that the Growth Commission report underplays the role the state would be required to play in transforming the economy of an independent Scotland.

download this paper


Why Scotland Needs Better Trade Statistics

Cuthbert, M.: published in Commonspace, 20th July 2019.
Analyses the poor state of Scotland’s statistics on trade, and suggests a way forward.
download this paper


Fiscal Policy in Scotland: Under Devolution and Under Independence

Cuthbert, J. R.:  Chapter 11 in “A New Scotland: Building an Equal, Fair and Sustainable Society”, edited by Gregor Gall, Pluto Press, 2022.
Argues that fiscal policy makers under the current devolution settlement are in an impossible situation because of the constraints laid upon them: also considers the opportunities and challenges that would face the fiscal policy maker under independence.

download this paper