AN influential economic forecaster has cut its growth predictions for the Scottish economy in 2014 with the outcome of the independence referendum cited as a risk factor it has considered.

The Ernst & Young Scottish ITEM Club has warned businesses might delay investment decisions until Scotland's constitutional future is settled, and the uncertainty might make it harder to attract skilled staff.

It said gross value added (GVA) – a measure of the value of the goods and services produced in an economy – will be at 1.4% next year, down from the 1.8% it predicted in December.

But the report also says increased publicity in the run-up to the poll on September 18 next year could attract international investors to Scotland.

The Scottish Government said it showed Scotland outperforming the UK in capital investment, economic growth and tackling unemployment, with the highest number in work since 2009.

But Ken Macintosh, Scottish Labour's finance spokesman, said: "This is a further sign that the SNP Government should be focusing on economic recovery rather than obsessing about the referendum.

"This should be taken as a plea from business to get on with the job of growing the Scottish economy now with the powers they have rather putting this on hold until after the referendum.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: "It is little surprise investors will hold back until the future for Scotland is more certain."

Dougie Adams of the ITEM Club said: "The hope is that the recovery will really take hold as we move into 2014, but it can't be taken for granted. Forecasts on exports and investment remain hostage to developments in Europe where the spectre of widespread defaults still looms.

"Domestically, it still remains to be seen whether a 'wait-and-see' attitude will develop towards Scotland while the country's constitutional future is decided."

The ITEM Club's downward revision for 2014 is partly due to an upgrade for this year from 0.7% to 0.8%. It expects growth to be slower and steadier from 2014.

The report said the 1.9% GVA growth pencilled in for 2015 was unchanged but 2016 was revised slightly downwards.

The potential for further trouble in the eurozone and negative changes to powerhouse economies such as China and the US are said to be the major factors which could derail the predictions.

The Scottish GVA projection for 2013 is behind the 1% the ITEM Club has predicted for the UK as a whole this year. It said the gap is due to Scotland having a smaller stake in faster-growing sectors such as retail, transport, storage and communications, and a larger share in sectors where output falls are expected such as mining, building and accommodation.

The predicted growth is likely to see more people in work but the report says it will be the end of this decade before Scottish employment returns to the levels seen before the financial crisis.

The ITEM Club research also shows Scottish non-oil export values have grown by 13% since the third quarter of 2008 and Scotland's share of UK exports is up from 5% to 6%, mainly due to the boom in Scotch whisky.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said its analysis in a joint Scottish Government/STUC Labour Market research paper shows in the year to March 2013 there was a 41,000 increase in full-time employment in Scotland.

She said a separate survey by accountants KPMG, suggesting almost 75% of large corporate businesses in Scotland expect to increase profits and turnover, highlighted confidence.