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Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds told the SNP Government to get off the sidelines as Scotland’s economy suffered a significant deficit due to COVID-19. Her comments come after a visit to Summerhall in Edinburgh with Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard today.
The latest GERS economic figures from the Scottish Government revealed Scotland faces an eye-watering public spending gap of more than £40 billion this year.
The official figures showed Scotland’s fiscal deficit grew to 8.6 percent of GDP in the 2019/20 financial year, with government spending £15.1 billion more than is received in revenues.
Meanwhile, Treasury figures showed that 936,000 jobs (a third of the country’s workforce) were being supported north of the Border.
The number of people supported in the COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme was 779,500 between June and July.
Speaking today, Ms Dodds said, “we’ve got to focus on what is happening in Scotland”.
She told Express.co.uk: “We have the highest unemployment rate in Scotland across the UK worryingly.
“We’ve also seen a number of reports which suggested that the Scottish economy is going to be particularly hard hit because of the impact on the pandemic.
“We really need to have a focused approach, one which isn’t this one size fits all approach and drawing support from all sectors.
“We need to be focused on the long term and preserve economic capacity right across the UK including in Scotland.
“We want to be seeing a Westminster Government working with the Scottish Government around this.
“Too often, we just seem to have an argument or barney between the two, we need to have that proper coordination.
“I think that’s where Scottish Labour has a very strong message, working with Westminster Labour to make sure that we have proportion coordination that is in the interests of Scotland and in the UK as well.”
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She went on to attack Boris Johnson saying sadly we have a “Westminster Government which is not dealing with this pandemic well.”
Ms Dodds added: “We have the highest rate of excess deaths in all of Europe and we also have the deepest recession in all of Europe.
“I think people are looking at that and are very worried.”
She continued to hit out at Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s withdrawal of the Furlough Scheme and added: “The Chancellor’s one-size-fits-all withdrawal of the Jobs Retention Scheme is causing economic havoc across the UK, but just because the Tories have presided over a jobs crisis in Westminster doesn’t mean the SNP can be proud of their record in Holyrood.
“Scotland has the highest unemployment rate in the UK and has suffered the highest year-on-year fall in job vacancies.
“Nicola Sturgeon and her SNP Government need to get off the sidelines and do much more to ensure workers who lose their jobs don’t end up in long-term unemployment.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard MSP, added today: “Just as Scotland was unprepared for the public health crisis, so too are we unprepared for the developing economic crisis.
“The UK Government must think again about its rash withdrawal of the furlough scheme, and the Scottish Government must waste no more time in rolling out a quality Jobs Guarantee Scheme before the furlough scheme ends.”
It comes after Nicola Sturgeon was handed a huge boost in a poll which asked Scots about whether Scotland should be an independent country.
The Panelbase poll showed 51 percent of those questioned said they support independence, while 42 percent said they would vote to stay in the UK and seven percent of voters were undecided.
When undecided voters were excluded, 55 percent favoured Scotland leaving the UK, with 45 percent preferring to stay in the Union.
Mr Leonard said he wasn’t conceding defeat nine months before the voters take to the ballot box.
He said: “I am not, nine months out from the election, conceding defeat to the SNP and there is everything to fight for. There are clear priorities which reflect the urgent priorities of the people.
“I do worry about any possible future which sees a long constitutional wrangle between an SNP and a Tory administration, I don’t think that serves the people of Scotland well.”
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