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First Minister to outline strategy for economic growth

Productive economy must be linked to reducing inequality, Nicola Sturgeon to say.

Conference: Event has been branded 'spin' by Labour (file pic).
Conference: Event has been branded 'spin' by Labour (file pic). PA

The First Minister will outline a strategy to grow Scotland's economy and tackle inequality at an event in Glasgow on Friday.

The "inclusive growth" conference will bring together speakers from international organisations, foreign governments, local authorities and academia to discuss Scotland's progress in the two areas.

Nicola Sturgeon is expected to focus on a range of policies including the expansion of free childcare and the Scottish Business Pledge when she addresses delegates.

She is expected to say: "Scotland needs to use our vast potential to become a more productive economy. But we also need to become a fairer and more equal society. These two challenges are inter-connected.

"Our revised economic strategy and our Programme for Government has inclusive growth at its heart.

"What that means is key social policies - such as our expansion of childcare and our work to raise attainment in schools - have a significant economic impact.

"That is why we are focusing on fair work, encouraging employers to boost productivity by investing in their workplace and paying the living wage."

The government has been encouraging firms to sign up to its Scottish Business Pledge initiative since it was established in 2015.

To sign up to the pledge, a company must commit to paying the living wage of £8.45 an hour and to at least two other criteria, ranging from not using zero-hour contracts to paying bills promptly and creating opportunities for young people.

Scottish Labour economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said the pledge was "spin" with "no substance".

She added: "New figures published this week show that the SNP has only convinced 0.2% of Scottish businesses to sign up to this flagship scheme, with only 3.6% of Scottish jobs covered by it.

"In traditional low-wage sectors with insecure work, like hotels and the hospitality industry, not a single business has signed up.

"With a third of hospitality workers under 25, this is simply a failure of the SNP government to stand up for younger workers."

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