SCOTLAND’S growth is being dragged down by the UK, a leading economist has claimed.

Dr David Skilling, an expert in the economics of small advanced economies, who contributed to Andrew Wilson’s Sustainable Growth Commission Report, was speaking ahead of the launch of a research carried out for thinktank Reform Scotland.

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In his paper, Policy Insights for Scotland From Small Advanced Economies, Skilling estimates that Scotland’s GDP per capita is $39,337 (£29,282) in 2017 – slightly lower than that of the UK and below that behind 13 other small advanced economies, including New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Hong Kong and Switzerland.

The former principal advisor at the New Zealand Treasury, pinned the blame partly on the slowdown in the oil and gas sector, and on “Scotland’s relatively deep exposure to the rest of the UK, which has underperformed the rest of Europe by significant margin over the past few years”.

The UK, he added, has been a “drag” on Scotland’s performance.

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Skinning writes: “There has been a consistent gap between Scotland’s GDP growth rates and that of other small advanced economies.

“This has led to a steady divergence in Scotland’s per capita income from that of other small advanced economies. Part of Scotland’s recent GDP growth weakness is due to the slowdown in the oil and gas sector (Norway has also suffered).

“Scotland’s relatively deep exposure to the rest of the UK, which has under-performed the rest of Europe by a significant margin over the past few years, is also a drag on performance.”

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Skilling suggests the government look at developing “human capital” – education and training and do more to fund research and development.

He also recommends tax rates remain in line with other small advanced economies – pointing out that in the 13 comparator countries the top rate for personal tax has been reduced from 47% to 44% since 2000.

Skilling told The National: “There’s nothing that I see, as an outsider, in Scotland that looks fundamentally different from other successful smaller economies.

“It’s obviously got a different constitutional situation.

“It really is just a matter of better using the new powers that have been devolved over the last period of time, and perhaps, over time getting more.

“But really using them with a degree of purpose and intent behind a clear ‘here’s what we want to do, here’s several growth engines that we identify, and here are the social, environmental outcomes as well’”.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We remain focused on growing the Scottish economy which is why the 2018-19 Budget delivered an increase of 64% in the economy, jobs and fair work budget as part of our investment of almost £2.4 billion in enterprise and skills”.