Covid-19 crisis and hard brexit creating the “perfect storm”
The SNP has issued a challenge to the Prime Minister and Chancellor to urgently strengthen coronavirus income support schemes and to introduce a meaningful financial stimulus package – warning that the pressure of rising coronavirus cases, restrictions and impact of a hard Brexit were creating the “perfect storm.”
The party’s Shadow Chancellor called on Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to come before Parliament when it returns from recess next week to heed the calls and set out measures to protect the economy, businesses, jobs, and people’s incomes.
The SNP has repeatedly pressed the Treasury to take steps to deliver desperately needed support and to secure the UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic, including –
– Bringing forward a £98bn support package – which is on par with recovery support provided by other countries such as New Zealand, France and Germany,
– Extending the furlough scheme and other coronavirus income support schemes for as long as necessary – rather than setting arbitrary deadlines – and delivering support for the three million excluded,
– Reversing the Tories’ public sector pay freeze,
– Making the £20 Universal Credit uplift permanent and extending it to legacy benefits,
– And, devolving financial powers to Holyrood so that the Scottish Government can take the necessary steps to protect jobs and people’s livelihoods.
On Brexit, Scottish Government analysis estimates that the Tory government’s Brexit deal could cut Scotland’s GDP by 6.1% – costing £9bn, or the equivalent of £1600 for every person, by 2030 compared to EU membership.
Commenting, SNP Shadow Chancellor Alison Thewliss MP said:
“Many of us will be glad to see the back of 2020, however, it is now absolutely critical that the UK government takes immediate action early in the New Year to ensure we can weather the perfect storm which is brewing due to rising coronavirus cases, restrictions, and the impact of a hard Brexit.
“When Parliament returns from recess next week, I urge the Prime Minister and the Chancellor to step up to the challenge and heed our long-standing calls for a £98bn support package – on par with other countries – to protect our economy, businesses, jobs, people’s incomes, and to secure our economic recovery.
“They must also extend income support schemes for as long as is required, U-turn on their damaging public sector pay freeze, make the £20 uplift to Universal Credit permanent and to extend to all legacy benefits, and devolve financial powers to Holyrood so it can take the crucial steps needed.
“Far too often the Tory government has found itself intent on prematurely pulling financial support for struggling businesses and households, only to be forced into a screeching U-turn at the very last minute – leaving it too late as jobs are lost and businesses forced to pull down their shutters.
“To add to the hardship caused by the health crisis, the Tories have also chosen to impose a hard Brexit – which analysis has shown will leave us poorer and worse off – at the same time. This is nothing short of an act of economic vandalism.
“Time is fast running out. The longer the UK government refuses to act the more jobs are lost, businesses left out in the cold, and households pushed into hardship and poverty – the blame for which will lie solely at Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak’s door.
“Scotland has been left to tackle this pandemic with one hand tied behind its back at the same time as having Brexit imposed upon us against our will. It’s clear that the only way to properly protect our interests and secure our economic recovery is by becoming an independent country.”