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Salmon farming ‘worth £2bn a year to Scottish economy’

The taxes paid by fish farm workers come to £24 million a year, on top of £50m paid by firms in corporation tax. Photo: Loch Duart Salmon.
The taxes paid by fish farm workers come to £24 million a year, on top of £50m paid by firms in corporation tax. Photo: Loch Duart Salmon.

A new study of Scotland’s salmon farming industry shows it makes a significant contribution to the nation’s economy.

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The independent research has calculated that the industry has an annual turnover of over £1 billion and generates £216 million in total tax revenues, nearly half of which are raised by or assigned to the Scottish Government.

The study was commissioned by the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO) and carried out by economist Richard Marsh, of Edinburgh-registered 4-consulting.

Click on image to enlarge. Graphic: 4-consulting / SSPO.
Click on image to enlarge. Graphic: 4-consulting / SSPO.

£93 extra for every £100 turnover

Marsh writes that the most recent version of the Scottish Government’s economic impact shows that for every £100 of turnover within the Scottish aquaculture industry another £93 is sustained elsewhere in Scotland’s economy through supply chains and high street spending from the wages paid to employees.

“Given an industry turnover of £1,027 million, this suggests that the economic impact of the industry could support nearly £2 billion of turnover in Scotland’s economy today and several thousand Scottish jobs,” adds Marsh.

When it comes to taxes, Marsh says: “The income multiplier for aquaculture (2.63) is one of the highest of any Scottish industry and reflects the capital-intensive nature of Scottish salmon industry. The income tax and national insurance multiplier for aquaculture was estimated to be 2.41 (every £100 within industry generates another £163 from elsewhere in Scotland).”

Click on image to enlarge. Graphic: 4-consulting / SSPO.
Click on image to enlarge. Graphic: 4-consulting / SSPO.

Corporation tax

The tax total includes £50m paid in corporation tax and £24m paid in income tax and national insurance. A further £37m is directly paid, net, on production and products.

Marsh says the average wage for workers in the Scottish salmon industry – calculated by dividing the total salary bill by  the number of employees – is around £34,000 per annum, although this figure doesn’t reflect the wages being offered to fish farm workers and is perhaps likely to be skewed slightly by the higher wages of senior executives. For instance, a farm technician’s role currently being offered by Scotland’s biggest salmon farmer, Mowi, pays between £19,555 to £24,808 per annum, although a bonus is also available.

The information in the report was drawn from the latest accounts and reports from the SSPO members, as well as business register data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Some data was only available for 2017 and these figures were adjusted to 2018 prices.

Hamish Macdonell, The SSPO’s director of strategic engagement, Hamish Macdonnell, said: “It should come as no surprise that the Scottish farmed salmon sector contributes a huge amount to the economy, but what these new figures reveal is quite how big that contribution is.

“An overall economic impact of more than £2 billion represents a major benefit to the Scottish economy in itself but with average salaries of £34,000 for the 2,300 people directly employed, the sector is injecting extremely valuable resources into some of Scotland’s most fragile, sparsely populated, rural areas as well.”

Read the full report here.

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