UK Government not cooperating on fair work and net-zero principles.
UK Ministers will not commit to implementing green ports in Scotland that are underpinned by fair work conditions and net-zero ambitions, according to Business Minister Ivan McKee.
A letter from the Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack has not provided a firm UK Government commitment on payment of the real living wage and net-zero conditionality in the operation of green ports in Scotland. The offer also fails to provide equivalent set-up funding for Scotland to that offered for the UK Government’s favoured freeport model for England.
As a result the Scottish Government will now progress plans to develop a green port model which is designed to meet the specific needs of Scotland’s economy.
Business Minister Ivan McKee said:
“I have been clear that any model implemented in Scotland must include a firm commitment to conditionality around fair work and net-zero. These are central tenets of Scotland’s future economy and principles we cannot compromise on. The UK Government’s offer does not reflect this, provide fair set-up funding, or indeed recognise the vital role the real living wage plays in secure pay and employment contracts.
“It is difficult to comprehend why UK Ministers would seek to dilute a strong commitment to fair work, including payment of the real living wage, when seeking to implement their freeport policy in Scotland. With just weeks to go before COP26, the UK Government should be working with us to help deliver a net-zero economy given both the Scottish and UK Government have statutory targets to meet on reducing our carbon emissions.
“The Scottish Government therefore has no option but to take forward plans to further develop our green port model which meet the specific needs of Scotland’s economy.”
The Scottish green port model adapts the UK Government’s freeport model to fit the Scottish context and help deliver a net-zero emissions economy and a Fair Work First approach, while supporting innovation, trade and inclusive growth.
Following productive discussions with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the Scottish Government was ready to publish a joint green port bidding prospectus for Scotland in March.
A timeline of engagement between Scottish and UK Ministers is noted below:
- 21 January the Minister for Trade, Innovation and Public Finance (MTIPF) made a statement to parliament on place-based economic development zones in which he first introduced the Scottish Government’s green ports model which adapts the UK government’s freeport model to fit the Scottish context and sets out clear requirements for adopting Fair Work First principles and contributing to Scotland’s just transition to net zero.
- 27 February - the Minister for Trade, Innovation and Public Finance wrote to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury welcoming his agreement on the importance of establishing an approach in Scotland that fits the Scottish context; proposing that Scotland should have two green ports; setting out his expectation that the assessment of Scottish applications and subsequent award of green port status should be made jointly, with the Scottish and UK governments on an equal footing; and that green ports should have access to the same level of seed funding (up to £25m per designation) as freeports in England.
- 11 March - the Minister for Trade, Innovation and Public Finance wrote to Scottish business organisations to update them on work to establish green ports in Scotland.
- 24 March - the Minister for Trade, Innovation and Public Finance wrote to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to outline disappointment that the joint bidding process for green ports would not be launched ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections. The letter was published on the blog and can be accessed here.
- 23 June – the Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise announced that stakeholders were invited to submit notes of interest in applying to secure green port designation.
- 02 July - the Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise wrote to Secretary of State for Scotland following their call on green ports reiterating the importance of fair work and net zero conditionality and the need for its inclusion.
- 16 July – the Scottish and Welsh Government issued a joint news release on freeports calling on UKG to respect devolution and provide fair funding.
- 31 July – the Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise confirmed that nine notes of interest in Scottish Government green ports were received.
- 06 Sept – the Secretary of State for Scotland wrote to the Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise outlining the UK Government offer that did not include fair work conditionality or equal funding.
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