Reform Scotland


Globally renowned expert David Skilling says Scotland must stay competitive with other small countries

Dr David Skilling, an economic adviser to governments, firms and financial institutions around the world, argues in a report published today that Scotland must learn from the experience of other small economies when setting its economic policies.

The paper, “Policy insights for Scotland from small advanced economies”, has been written by Skilling for the independent think tank Reform Scotland and is part-funded by the Scottish Policy Foundation. 

Dr Skilling has researched a range of small economies, benchmarks Scotland against them and explores the issues such economies face today and will face in the future. Finally, he offers a view of the implications for Scotland of a range of policy decisions.

In the report, Dr Skilling emphasises that Scotland should:

  • recognise the importance of fiscal discipline, with an emphasis on controlling the quantity and quality of government expenditure, and on ensuring that taxes are competitive with other small economies
  • create economic upside by better using the devolved economic powers it already has
  • allow the debate over economic policy to be informed by the experiences in other small economies
  • recognise the importance of a coherent growth strategy with an emphasis on research, innovation and human capital

These issues will be discussed at a political debate with David Skilling, the SNP’s Kate Forbes MSP, the Conservatives’ Murdo Fraser MSP and Labour’s Jackie Baillie MSP at an event on the morning of Thursday 7th June.

Commenting, Reform Scotland Director Chris Deerin said:

“This is an important contribution to Scotland’s economic debate by a respected global expert on small countries – a man who helped shape the findings of the SNP’s recent Growth Commission.

“The report is not about nationalism or unionism – it is about how we in Scotland can create the conditions for greater economic growth in order to raise our standard of living and better fund our public services.

“The lessons from the paper are clear. To achieve economic success, we must ensure our tax rates are competitive, that we have a high-quality business environment, and invest in human capital and innovation.”

Alison Moore, the Director of the Scottish Policy Foundation, commented:

“As Scotland’s grant-giving foundation for public policy research, the Scottish Policy Foundation is pleased to have been able to support this important piece of policy research on Scotland’s economy.

“Our mission is to encourage a flourishing debate on issues of public policy that are important to us here in Scotland, and the Reform Scotland / David Skilling paper is one of a number that we are currently funding to add to the debate around Scotland’s economy and productivity.

“This paper is a valuable addition to the debate on our economy, and we look forward to continuing to support this debate through our ongoing work.”




    1. This paper is published by Reform Scotland in association with the Scottish Policy Foundation. 
    2. Reform Scotland is an independent, non-party think tank that aims to set out a better way to deliver increased economic prosperity and more effective public services based on the traditional Scottish principles of limited government, diversity and personal responsibility. 
    3. The Scottish Policy Foundation is a grant-giving body in Scotland that funds the examination and discussion of policy options related to the devolved powers of the Scottish Parliament through impartial and high quality research. Further information on SPF can be found
    4. Media: Message Matters (Andy Maciver,, 07855 261 244); Scottish Policy Foundation (Alison Moore,, 07879 622 665)