Tories Must Rule Out Austerity and Invest to Prevent Lasting Damage

There must be no return to 1980’s levels of unemployment says Ian Blackford MP (pictured).

The Tory government must rule out a return to austerity and commit to investment – to prevent soaring levels of unemployment not seen since the Thatcher years.

Ahead of MPs returning to Parliament this week, SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford has called for the UK government to introduce key measures to prevent unemployment and protect those in hardship – including:

Maintaining access to the furlough scheme for as long as lockdown continues in Scotland and each of the devolved nations

Ruling out a return to Tory austerity cuts and instead delivering investment to stimulate economic growth and boost jobs

Agreeing a two-year extension to the Brexit transition period before the June deadline

Introducing a Universal Basic Income and strengthening welfare protections

The move follows new figures from the Treasury this week, which revealed at least 8.4million workers in the UK have been furloughed.

While the Job Retention Scheme is being cut back from August with reduced contributions by the UK government.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed the number of people claiming unemployment benefits rose by seventy per cent to 2.1million in April.

A separate report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found the number of job vacancies has collapsed.

Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed a €750billion recovery fund on Wednesday to help EU members tackle this “unprecedented crisis”.

Commenting, SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP said:

“The Tory government must not repeat the mistakes of the past.

“There must be no return to the soaring levels of unemployment we saw during the Thatcher years, which would push millions of people into poverty and hardship.

“As we return to Parliament, Boris Johnson must rule out a return to Tory austerity cuts and instead commit to serious investment to stimulate economic growth, boost jobs and secure a strong recovery.

“Access to the furlough scheme must be maintained for as long as Scotland and the devolved nations remain in lockdown – so people are not penalised for this public health emergency.

“Independence would give Scotland full economic powers, but short of that fiscal powers must be devolved so the Scottish Government has the levers it needs to give Scotland the best chance of a strong recovery – with measures tailored to our specific needs.

“Where powers remain at Westminster, the UK government should follow the example of our European neighbours and deliver its own ‘Marshall Plan’ of investment instead of Tory cuts.

“We must also learn the lessons of this crisis.

“Too many people have been left without help because of the serious gaps in support.

“The UK government must look again at introducing a Universal Basic Income and strengthened welfare protections – so no one is left behind.

“The SNP will continue to press the UK government to deliver comprehensive financial support now – and for the right response to secure a strong recovery in Scotland and across the UK.”