THE Scottish Government will drive economic growth to improve investment in public services, ensure fair wages and eradicate child poverty, John Swinney has said.

The new First Minister spoke of the need to deliver growth that is felt “right across Scotland” as he headed to the ground-breaking of the new Ardersier Port this morning.

Last year, US firm Quantum Energy Partners announced it would be investing £300 million in an effort to transform the port into an energy transition facility.

Investors say the cash will create thousands of local construction jobs and additional roles in the decommissioning of North Sea oil and gas assets.

The National: John Swinney Image: PA

Speaking ahead of the event at the port, Swinney said Scotland could be an “even more formidable economic force”.

“My government will support business and economic growth – not for its own sake, but for a clear social purpose,” he said. “It is the outcomes of growth which will deliver public funding we can invest in public services like the NHS and schools and ultimately create a fairer society.

“It is vital that benefits of economic growth are felt right across Scotland – and equally, it is vital that all of Scotland contributes to our economic success. I want to see every aspect of our economy and society working together to achieve the best economic outcomes for Scotland.”

He went on: “As a nation, we are blessed with extraordinary natural resources, a skilled workforce, innovative companies and world-leading universities which are leading research into cutting-edge technologies pushing back the scientific boundaries.

“If we can ensure that these outstanding economic strengths unite to work together in a national mission to drive economic growth for the benefit of all, Scotland would be an even more formidable economic force.”

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The SNP chief turned his attention to the Tories’ austerity project, and accused Labour of supporting it. He said this programme was “continuing to hold Scotland back”.

“As First Minister I will continue to make the case for a change in approach and for these powers to be in Scotland’s hands through independence,” he said. “But I will also use every tool at the Scottish Government’s disposal to maximise economic growth now.”

It comes after Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes pledged to cut red tape to boost the economy in a Sunday Times column.

Writing in the Sunday Times, the former leadership contender said she wants to “get stuff done” and that economic choices made this year will “determine whether Scotland reaps the benefits for decades to come or forever laments the missed opportunities”.