THE SNP’S hopes of Scottish independence have been dealt a major blow after an expert warned Scots may not be able to afford their monthly mortgage payments should the country be successful in splitting from the UK.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to press ahead with a second referendum on Scottish independence should the ruling SNP win a majority in the upcoming Scottish election on May 6. But the SNP’s push for a break from the rest of the UK has come under furious attack, with experts warning Scotland could be plunged into a financial black hole in light of the huge budget deficit the country was running – even before the coronavirus pandemic. Now John Ferry, a contributing editor for the pro-Union think tank Three Islands, has warned Scottish people could struggle to pay their monthly mortgage on the properties if the SNP is successful in its quest for independence.

Scottish politicians should focus their attention on the transition to renewable energy if they are to raise the growth rate, a report has said.

A study of low growth in output and productivity has found economic policy lacks focus and can be too complex.

It forecasts Scotland is on course to see a widening gap with countries such as Norway, the scale of which compares to the entire global output of Google.

However, renewable energy is an area where there could be an advantage.

It says the government could focus its industrial policy to supporting the renewable sector, though at a cost to other priorities.

The report, by the Oxford Economics consultancy, states: “It is not implausible to suggest that there are business opportunities that resemble those that generated Silicon Valley, several decades ago.”

The study says that tax policy – controlled at both Westminster and Holyrood – fails to encourage work, savings or investment.

It suggests major changes to the way the tax system is structured, using a broader range of taxes to spread the burden, saying “fundamental rather than piecemeal reform is needed”.

The report was commissioned from Oxford Economics by the foundation set up by Sir Tom Hunter, the Ayrshire-based entrepreneur and philanthropist.

He says the current election campaign features good ideas for spending more, but little focus on how to make more money.

NEW digital billboards have appeared in Glasgow and Edinburgh as part of a new campaign arguing that Scottish businesses, jobs and pensions are better off in the UK.

Business group Scottish Business UK (SBUK) has launched the advertising campaign as part of plans to drive engagement with business leaders in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The group describes itself as an independent, non-party voice for business leaders who “want to see Scotland thrive economically as part of the United Kingdom.”

The digital billboards, which will be visible at eight locations in the cities throughout April and early May to coincide with the Scottish Parliament election campaign period, contain simple messages arguing that Scottish businesses, jobs and pensions are better off in the UK.

SBUK says the campaign is designed to ramp up support for SBUK in anticipation of Scottish Government plans to “go against the wishes of business leaders by seeking a referendum to break up the UK during the pandemic recovery period”.

SBUK Chief Executive Struan Stevenson said: “SBUK’s new digital billboard campaign highlights the simple truth that businesses, jobs and pensions are safer if Scotland stays in the UK and consequently less secure if we leave it.

Scottish government have today told the country’s taxi operators that there will be no COVID-19 financial support package offered to them according to union officials and operators.

The news has left members of the industry shocked and frustrated, as the operators seek desperate financial aid to help survive and recover from the terrible impact the global pandemic has had on the trade.

A spokesperson from Unite the Union Cab Section has said: “The Cab Section is bitterly disappointed to report that the SNP Government has decided that no money will be made available to taxi operators to mitigate the devastating impact of Covid. Kate Forbes, Cabinet Finance Secretary has rejected Unite proposals for help.

“It is important to know that the UK Government provided adequate funds to help our industry. However, the allocation of monies has left much to be desired. For example, when asked what has happened to the £20M underspend from the £57M taxi support fund, we were advised it goes back to the Scottish Government. When asked if the Scottish Government would be handing it back to the UK Government, a less than transparent response was given. It was along the lines of ‘other sectors may benefit from that money.

Plans to upgrade the notorious Sheriffhall roundabout must be made a priority, Edinburgh Southern Conservative candidate Miles Briggs has said.

The £120 million scheme, which includes a flyover to ease congestion, was halted in February last year so a review could be carried out as part of the SNP’s Holyrood budget agreement with the Greens.

But Mr Briggs said the rush-hour queues which have long plagued commuters are getting worse and demanded that the project – financed under the City Region Deal should resume.

He said: “It has to become a priority. The SNP have been dragging their feet on it. They did a deal with the Greens which has just paused it for a year, so for people using the bypass – particularly at peak times – it’s just getting worse and worse.

“This is a key improvement that need to be prioritised as soon as possible in the next parliament.”

And he said congestion on the bypass had also been neglected for too long. “It’s quite clear it’s over-capacity. Even during the pandemic when people are meant to be working from home there are tailbacks at Sheriffhall every morning.”

He said he had put forward a number of “workable suggestions” which ministers had ignored, including use of “smart motorway” technology and a feasibility study into widening the road.

© Scotland Matters