The Scottish Budget failed to acknowledge the role haulage plays in underpinning economic activity north of the border after it excluded any funding for freight, according to Logistics UK.
The business group reacted with disappointment to the Budget, which set out the spending and tax plans in Scotland for 2024 to 2025, and said it had overlooked the key role logistics played in building and supporting trading relationships.
Finance secretary Shona Robison outlined policies to grow the economy and transition to net zero, but she added “difficult decisions have been required” in the face of a deeply challenging financial situation.
“This Budget is set in turbulent circumstances,” she said.
“At the global level the impacts of inflation, the war in Ukraine, and the after-effects of the pandemic continue to create instability.
“In the UK the combined effects of Brexit and disastrous Westminster policies mean that we are uniquely vulnerable to these international shocks.”
But Alexandra Herdman, senior policy manager at Logistics UK, described the Budget as “a missed opportunity”.
She said: “No mention was made in the Budget of providing our sector with the assistance we need on new infrastructure or skills to ensure the continued growth of the economy.
“And while decarbonisation is a key policy priority for the Scottish government, the shift to alternative transport modes, away from road, was also omitted.”
Herdman added: “The Budget mentions support for the food and drink sector, but despite this being a feather in the Scottish economy’s cap, it cannot succeed without the support of a thriving logistics sector to connect producers with customers through a resilient supply chain.
“To ignore the contribution that our industry makes to the nation’s economic success, and remove all funding to expand the sector’s impact, is a retrograde step which will limit the opportunity for Scottish business to reach new markets and service existing customers.”
The Scottish government said recent forecasts by the office for budget responsibility came on the back of the shocks of the pandemic and cost crisis, but more broadly at a UK level, the combined effects of a decade of low growth and the negative economic impact of Brexit.
It said modelling by the national institute of economic and social research suggested that compared to EU membership, the UK economy was 2.5% smaller in 2023 and it expected this to increase to 5.7% by 2035.