By Ian McConnell

SCOTLAND recorded the fastest economic growth of any of the UK nations and regions in August, a key survey published today reveals.

Royal Bank of Scotland’s seasonally adjusted business activity index for the private-sector economy north of the Border rose from 57.5 in July to 58.1 in August, rising further above the 50 no-change mark to top the table of the 12 UK nations and regions.

This index is a combined measure of manufacturing and services sector output.

Employment in Scotland’s private-sector economy grew for a fifth straight month in August and, although the pace of job-creation eased, it remained sharp, Royal Bank noted.

Setting out the survey findings, the bank said: “Business activity growth eased across the majority of regions for the third month in a row in August. Only Scotland, which recorded an index reading of 58.1 and topped the rankings narrowly ahead of Wales (58.0), saw a faster rate of expansion than in July.”

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Royal Bank noted the weakest increases in output in August were in north-east England, the East Midlands and Northern Ireland.

Malcolm Buchanan, who chairs Royal Bank’s Scotland board, said: “August data pointed to a further rapid expansion of Scotland’s private-sector economy, with the rate of growth re-accelerating from July and outpacing the UK as a whole by a wide margin. Services continued to record a faster upturn than manufacturing, although the differential narrowed slightly.”

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He added: “Inflows of new work increased sharply again, as looser lockdown measures continued to boost client demand and, as a result, firms took on staff for the fifth month running.

“Overall, the latest PMI data signals another strong performance for the Scottish private sector. Inflationary pressures remain a concern, but do not seem to be hindering the economic rebound as growth remains close to the survey record pace seen in May.”