NICOLA Sturgeon’s most trusted economist has predicted Scotland will have the worst performing economy in the developed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrew Wilson, the former SNP MSP who authored the party’s Growth Commission on independence, said the outlook for families was “bleak”.

He predicted the looming recession would be long-lasting and said a “monumental effort” was required from governments working in collaboration to address it.

Mr Wilson was speaking ahead on BBC Radio Scotland ahead of today’s release of the Scottish GDP figures for the first quarter of 2020, which includes the start of the lockdown. 

He said he expected the figures to be “difficult”, but preliminary not definitive.

He said: “What’s clear to me is the UK is set to be the worst performing economy in the developed world and Scotland’s probably going to be a bit worse because of the nature of our sectors and how the virus has behaved north and south of the border.”

Other economists have also warned that Scotland’s reliance on tourism and hospitality make it particularly vulnerable to the effects of lockdown and a loss of consumer confidence.

Mr Wilson went on: “I think this is a long-haul back, not a V-shaped bounce back at all.

“I think the prospects are that we need a monumental effort - politicians and governments working in collaboration - to get the measures we need in place to rescue businesses.

“Because the outlook for people, for families is bleak.”

Figures from the Office for National Statistics yesterday showed Scotland’s unemployment rate rising 1.1% to 4.6% in the last quarter, overtaking the UK rate of 3.9%.

The number of Scots claiming work-related benefits rose be almost a third from March to May, up 30,000 to 127,000.

Mr Wilson has also warned of the impact on business of keeping the 2m rule on physical distancing.

However the First Minister has so far resisted calls to reduce it to 1m, arguing it is not yet safe to do so.

Mr Wilson said: “Without those restrictions on social distancing being lifted, in due course businesses will fail on a grand scale.”

Under the Scottish Government’s route map out of the lockdown, small shops are expected to reopen this weekend, but large retailers need to wait until next month.

In England, all shops are now allowed to open.

Asked if Scotland was opening up too slowly for businesses might not survive the coming weeks, Mr Wilson said: “The short answer is yes for those businesses, but if you’re the First Minister you’re having to weight up the whole economy and the whole society.

“Her view… is that if you open up too quick then the pain for those businesses could be deeper and longer in due course if the virus gets out of control. It’s a tough balancing act.

“What we need to make sure of, however, is that front of mind is the economic cost and pain that will ensue if we don’t get there purposefully.

“The Scottish Tourism Alliance said in their survey of members, half of their accommodation and restaurant businesses will fail at 2m.  

“I think [a decision on the distancing rule] needs to be taken as soon as it can.”