Page last updated at 18:27 GMT, Tuesday, 14 October 2008 19:27 UK

Salmond draws up economy aid plan

Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond held a special meeting of the cabinet to draw up the plans

The Scottish Government has drawn up a six point action plan to try to save the Scottish economy from recession.

The plan, agreed by a meeting of a special economic cabinet, is designed to boost development and help the poorest households.

First Minister Alex Salmond told cabinet colleagues there was no doubt the financial crisis would have a serious impact on the wider economy.

The action plan includes bringing forward investment programmes.

The SNP administration has already said that up to 100m of spending on affordable housing was being brought forward.

Public projects

Ministers will also looking at how the crucial tourism industry can be boosted with the year of Homecoming next year.

Boosting business advice and simplifying the planning system is another key strand of the plan.

In terms of households, the Government will be looking to improve energy efficiency in homes and seeing how they can improve financial advice to vulnerable households.

It will also look to see how it can help improve uptake of health benefit entitlements, which can be worth up to 1,500 a year in some cases.

There will also be additional measures to tackle fuel poverty, augmenting the existing programmes.

Specific details have yet to be fixed but ministers hope to make announcements on each point of the plan within the next few weeks.

The special meeting came in the wake of calls at the weekend for the UK Government to provide Scotland with a 1bn funding package to help save the Scottish economy from recession.

It also came the day after the UK Government threw a 30bn lifeline to two leading Scottish banks - HBOS and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Labour's leader in the Scottish Parliament, Iain Gray, said the first minister needed to ensure the plan was "not all spin and no action".

He said: "Labour welcomed the announcement of 100m allocated to the affordable housing investment programme back in August.

"However so far we are very disappointed that only 9m has actually been brought forward. That leaves a shortfall of 91m and of that 40m has still to be agreed with councils. "

He added that Labour would continue to urge the Scottish Government to bring forward capital building programmes and warned that delays to the new Scottish Futures Trust were leading to a "black hole" in funding for public projects.

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