It wasn’t supposed to be like this – 2022 was expected to be a year of economic recovery, with incomes and business activity picking back up two years on from the start of the pandemic.

Debates towards the end of 2021 were focused on how best to accelerate the pace of recovery, and to take advantage of new opportunities as society opened back up. There was also hope that the recovery offered an opportunity to change the future trajectory of our economy to tackle inequalities and support the transition to net zero.

But we now find ourselves in another global economic shock.

Supply-side bottlenecks, rising demand post-pandemic and Russia’s war on Ukraine mean that inflation is forecast to rise to its highest rate in 40 years. The Office for Budget Responsibility has warned of a “historic hit to living standards”.

The rise in inflation – predicted to top 8% this year – will have broader costs too.

Growth forecasts have been revised down sharply both in the UK and Scotland, as households and businesses cut back on spending. Borrowing costs are expected to spike in the short run, with UK debt interest payments on track to hit an eye-watering £83 billion this year curtailing the Chancellor’s spending plans and leading to a rethink of planned tax changes.

Against this backdrop, it is not a surprise that recent publications from both Westminster and Holyrood setting out their respective long-term economic strategies have perhaps received less attention than would normally be the case. In February, we had the UK Government’s “Levelling-up” White Paper and in March, the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation.

Both reports provided some useful insights and analysis of the challenges facing our economy. They also contained some innovative new ideas to support economic growth and tackle inequalities. There have been extensive reviews of, and commentary on, the policy recommendations of each report from a variety of authors, so I will not repeat them here except to note one feature of the Scottish Government’s new strategy: the recognition of the need to focus upon “delivery”.

This is the fourth economic strategy of an SNP-led administration since 2007. One feature of all of them is the relative consistency of policy prognosis and broad agreement over the drivers of change. This includes the importance of business growth and success in export markets, as well as the value of skills and productivity gains from efficient and accessible infrastructure.

This is why acknowledging the importance of delivery is so important. Within a broadly consistent framework, a better understanding of the successes and failures of individual policy initiatives, programmes and institutional set-ups means that we can ensure that money and effort are used in the most effective way possible.

The publication of an annual progress report on how the Scottish Government’s ambitions are being met (or not met) is a welcome initiative. The very act of tracking and reporting progress should hopefully strengthen a culture of monitoring and evaluation across the public sector.

This won’t be easy or comfortable for policymakers. It can be (relatively) straightforward to define a new strategy and to put forward a list of possible ideas that it is hoped will make a difference. Much more difficult – as recent work on the Small Business Bonus has shown – to find evidence if these ideas deliver the promised benefits.

It is vital that policymakers are open about progress, where ambitions have been realised and where we have fallen short.

There are responsibilities too on opposition politicians. Too often when we identify that an initiative, investment, or decision did not realise all that was hoped for it, there is a political clamour to find someone to “blame”. Not every policy innovation will work. But where that happens, we should focus on what we can learn from these experiences. What does this experience tell us that we can use to make better decisions in the future? Simply resolving to do “more of the same” won’t cut it.

A “relentless focus upon delivery” might not be the catchiest soundbite ever, but if it is realised it might provide the biggest transformation to economic policy since devolution.

Graeme Roy is professor of economics at the University of Glasgow’s Adam Smith Business School