Power to the people 2

electricity pylons

When the government enters the market place, to correct market failure, there can be pitfalls and there can be blockages.

So for more insight into the publicly-owned energy company being planned by the Scottish government, David Hunter - our go-to guy on energy markets at Schneider Electric - had some interesting observations for listeners to Good Morning Scotland, on BBC Radio Scotland.

State aid, for instance. The rules may (or may not) change after Brexit. But for now, there is a risk that the Scottish government is challenged legally by one of the commercial companies competing for a share of the energy supply market.

If, for instance, it brings the government's huge marketing budget to bear, that could be seen as state aid and a distortion of the market. And even more so if it uses government funds to subsidise bills, say for disadvantaged households, or the administrative expenses of the new company.

He points out that the logic points to further intervention in the market. Since almost all British nationalised companies were privatised in the 1980s and 1990s, the government approach to tackling market failure or to anti-competitive behaviour in utilities has been to regulate.

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Power to the people

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The promise of a government-owned, not-for-profit energy company has been coming down the pipeline since last year's Holyrood manifesto from the SNP.

The Scottish government's draft energy strategy, published last February, set out some options, and asked for opinions from the public.

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Slow progress

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Unemployment is at record lows: employment is at record highs. So all's well? Not according to figures published this week.

Growth continues to struggle into positive territory, according to Scottish government statisticians.

Read full article Slow progress

Brakes on the spin cycle

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Reform Scotland, the think tank, has warned that we've got problems with our numbers in Scotland.

It's not that they don't add up. It's that we don't have enough of them to be able to measure the economy properly. And those we have are, it is claimed, too easily "politicised".

Read full article Brakes on the spin cycle

Time for a heated debate


The story is a familiar one, but the tension is increasing.

A tightening budget on day-to-day public spending brings many more challenges this year than last, but the long-term pressures cannot be handled by simply applying the same squeeze.

Read full article Time for a heated debate

Brexit: bulls, bears and bulldogs


There's a mis-match between Scotland's economic performance so far this year, and the gathering gloom about the potential impact of Brexit.

In 2016, the economy actually contracted, according to official statistics. It wasn't technically a recession, but it was a very poor year.

Read full article Brexit: bulls, bears and bulldogs

When dough goes sour

Two people working in bakery
Image caption Bakery47 closes for the last time on Sunday, despite huge success

Imagine you have a hobby, a passion, and a dream of making it into a successful business.

Just suppose it happens to blend with a Great British vogue for baking, leavened by a runaway TV success.

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You've never had it so good, although..

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Image caption The UK is now effectively at full employment

Scotland has never had it so good. Exceptionally low unemployment. Record high employment. Jobs growth motoring nicely.

Only the south-east and south west regions of England have lower unemployment rates.

Read full article You've never had it so good, although..

Blowing away costs

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The price of producing offshore wind power has plummeted. How do we know? And why?

Well, widely reported on Monday it is the result of an auction - a reverse auction.

Read full article Blowing away costs

Sturgeon's mid-term reboot

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Things haven't gone as anyone expected for the past few years. For Nicola Sturgeon, a rogue Westminster election knocked the momentum out of her party's dominance and the independence movement.

So 16 months out from her re-election to lead a minority administration, the Programme for Government has the look of a reboot. She's switched off the administration, and switched it back on again, and come up with something that reads like an election manifesto.

Read full article Sturgeon's mid-term reboot