IT’S that time of year again. A chance to reflect on the 12 months past, and set goals and aspirations for the year ahead.

With that in mind here’s my wee wish list for what the UK Government should do to help Scotland’s economy in 2018.

First up Brexit. I’m still hoping economic reality will kick in and the idiocy of leaving the single market and customs union will be averted.

Having said that, watching the May Government prioritise bringing back blue passports doesn’t inspire confidence that the grown-ups are yet in charge.

Most Scots couldn’t care less what colour their passport is as long as it guarantees the right to live and work in 27 other countries.

The best we can probably hope for is a soft exit into a transition period that is EU membership in all but name, and then a future trade deal that mirrors as closely as possible the benefits we currently enjoy as part of the biggest trading block on the planet. Maybe Scotland will have reached for the emergency parachute by then anyway.

In the meantime the Tories are refusing to rule out scrapping EU employment protections, and are dragging their heels over guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens in the UK after Brexit, driving away talent right now.

A focus on policies to protect our NHS, universities and businesses that depend heavily on workers from abroad is urgently needed. As the recent Scottish Fiscal Commission forecasts made crystal clear Scotland’s growth is constrained by the impact of Brexit on our future population.

Secondly, scrap Universal Credit: this is a botched and inefficient system which is failing the people it should support.

The six-week waiting period pushes people into arrears and forces them to rely on food banks and emergency hardship payments.

The Scottish Government is doing its best to mitigate the damage it causes, but the worst aspects of the policy remain, and it would be best all round if the rollout was halted.

Possibly the only reason that Universal Credit is still being pursued in the face of all evidence is that welfare cuts are seen by the UK Government as a key part of their plans to reduce the deficit.

Abandoning them would mean admitting that the austerity agenda was ideologically driven, rather than fiscally sensible.

Which brings me neatly to wish number three: abandon austerity.

There is no credibility left in this policy. The IFS has forecast that the UK’s debt will not return to 2008 levels until the 2060s. Austerity hasn’t worked.

The dogged pursuit of deficit reduction has resulted in a “lost decade” of negative real-wage growth with more to come, and driven up the numbers of people who are living in poverty. Productivity in the UK looks set to be worse in future than anyone has predicted.

Now is not the time, Theresa May, to preside over further fiscal contraction. Show a little bit of sense and let Phillip Hammond invest to get the economy moving again.