ANAS Sarwar will criticise Holyrood for being too focused on “social policy” and reiterate a pledge that Scottish Labour are “unashamedly pro-business” in a speech today.

The MSP will outline his party’s vision for a new economic growth strategy for Scotland, including appointing a new board of independent advisers.

In a speech to a business audience, Sarwar will claim that the Scottish Parliament’s 25-year focus on social policy has come at the expense of building a stronger economy and despite its “vast powers”.

However, Holyrood does not have powers over a range of key issues relating to the economy, including immigration, financial services, trade and industry and some aspects of taxation.

READ MORE: Questions for Scottish Labour after UK party U-turns on wealth tax

Sarwar will also reiterate a pledge that his party are “unashamedly pro-business”, following similar promises from Keir Starmer.

Former prime minister Liz Truss and current Tory leader Rishi Sunak have also used this phrase.

Responding to Sarwar's comments, the SNP said Labour appeared to "be in competition with the Tories" with their economic plans- and "at the expense of Scottish people".

The Scottish Labour leader will say in his speech: “Nearly a quarter of a century on since devolution, our Scottish Parliament has overseen sweeping social change, but we have been very much a social policy parliament rather than an economic policy parliament.

“And that has let down Scottish employers, weakening our potential for growth.

“With the vast powers that Holyrood has and during a cost of living crisis – and let’s not forget, a cost of doing business crisis – it’s vital that we debate how to deliver economic growth. That’s what Scottish businesses deserve.

“Not brinksmanship or constitutional uncertainty and gameplaying, but a government that uses the levers we have in Scotland to deliver growth, a government that understands what businesses want and a government that works in partnership with business to deliver what’s best for Scotland.

“That is what Scottish Labour will prioritise.”

A businessman who has grilled contestants on The Apprentice and another tasked with leading the implementation of a Scottish Government initiative will form part of Scottish Labour’s new economic council, the party also said.

Sandy Begbie – the chief executive of Scottish Financial Enterprise and the man appointed chair of the implementation group behind the Young Person’s Guarantee – will be part of the panel.

READ MORE: Anas Sarwar labels criticism of Keir Starmer 'unfair'

The £70 million guarantee was announced by then first minister Nicola Sturgeon to counter the economic impact of the pandemic by pledging that 16 to 24-year-olds would have an offer of work, education or training.

Begbie will be joined by former media executive Mike Soutar, who also interviews candidates on the hit BBC show fronted by Sir Alan Sugar, and Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief executive Liz Cameron.

The group – which will also bring together Edinburgh International Festival head Fran Hegyi, PR executive Mary McGowne, facilities management boss Willie Haughey, quarry firm head Paul McManus, Walker’s Shortbread chairman Bob Brannan and union official Karen Whitefield – will be tasked with providing advice to the party on its economic policy.

SNP MSP Collette Stevenson said: “For Anas Sarwar to sneer at the SNP Government’s track record of life-changing social policies tells you all you need to know about the easily-bought values of Scottish Labour, who have clearly been taking notes from Keir Starmer with this blatant swing to the right.

“Once upon a time Labour styled itself as the party that puts people before profit, however now, as these latest comments from Anas Sarwar show, they appear to be in competition with the Tories with their economic plans- and all at the expense of Scottish people, no doubt, who are already shouldering the cost of a hard-Brexit they don’t vote for, that both Labour and the Tories support.

“While Scottish Labour and the Tories decide between themselves which party is more pro-business, the SNP will continue to be the party which is unashamedly pro-people; understanding that progressive social policies are the cornerstones of any thriving economy, and fair society.”