2021 has already given us plenty of surprises and no doubt more are on their way. Whatever is going on, rest assured that here at the Fraser we are doing our best to work out and share what this means for the Scottish economy. Governments, firms, and individuals all have a stake in our economy, and our work aims to cover the issues (and hopefully, one day, opportunities) facing them all.
As well as our usual commentary on whatever comes our way, here are some of the projects we have up our sleeve for this next year:
The Scottish election is due on the 6th May – bar any Covid-related disruption. We’ll be looking at the big issues that will dominate the election campaigns and how we can provide timely and factual analysis to help us all understand what is at stake. Stay tuned for reports, webinars and podcasts over the next few months.
In the first few months of this year we have not one, but two, budget events to look forward to. First the announcement of the Scottish draft budget on the 28th January, and then the UK Budget on the 3rd March. Given the continuing impact of Covid-19, and the amount of extra spending that has been required, there are lots of complexities in understanding what is happening. We’ll be doing our best, as always, to try and figure it out.
We have been undertaking a large programme of activity around support and opportunities for people with learning disabilities in Scotland. This work carries on in 2021 with a focus on support services, employment opportunities and the social security system in the next few months. Our 2020 outputs are on our website here: https://fraserofallander.org/learning-disabilities/
Poverty and Inclusive Growth
Understanding the interactions between policies that improve the lives of the most disadvantaged people in our economy and the performance of the economy overall lies at the heart of debates over inclusive growth. Using the Scottish Government’s ambitions on child poverty as a starting point, we are continuing our work to understand these linkages and to see how eliminating child poverty impacts our economy. We’ll also be finishing up our project on the impact of working hours patterns on household poverty. Catch up with our work so far here: https://fraserofallander.org/working-hours/
Making the most of data
We’ll continue to assess new novel data sources that can give us up to date indicators on change in the economic environment as well as looking at where we can use existing data better. We’ll still be doing our routine analysis following data releases on GDP and the labour market as well as our fortnightly economic indicators update and we have a new project kicking of shortly with the Data for Children Collaborative looking at data relating to the educational attainment gap in the north of Scotland.
Emerging from the pandemic
We don’t know when, but at some point in the next year, we should be at a point where businesses star to reopen and social distancing relaxed. As this happens, government support for businesses will be unwound. The economy that will emerge from this is likely to look very different, and understanding the implications of this for firms and workers will be crucially important if policy makers are to respond effectively. Analysing this situation as it unfolds will be a key priority for us over the course of the year.
And the rest….
As always, we’ll be producing our regular Economic Commentary and Business Monitor and taking forward commissioned work based on our clients’ interests. If there is anything you think we could help you with, let us know.
Our website is the best place to keep up to date where you can also join our mailing list to receive our latest content and invites to webinars (and maybe even one day events!) by email. We also regularly contribute to the Economics Observatory, which is a UK wide project to seek to answer questions about coronavirus and the UK economy. One of our latest contributions on wealth taxation can be found here. You can also find us on Twitter @Strath_FAI and on Linkedin .
We are looking forward to what should be an interesting, and a more hopeful, year ahead.
The Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI) is a leading economy research institute based in the Department of Economics at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.