Johnson Must Devolve Powers to Secure Scotland’s Recovery

The SNP has said Boris Johnson (pictured) must announce an emergency budget and make a commitment to devolve the financial powers needed to secure Scotland’s recovery from coronavirus in his keynote speech today.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Ian Blackford said the spending and borrowing powers that have been requested by the Scottish Government were the “essential key to Scotland’s economic recovery” – warning failing to deliver these powers could result in redundancies, business closures, budget cuts, and prolonged damage to Scotland’s economy.

The SNP Westminster Leader also called for an emergency UK Budget in July designed to protect people’s jobs and incomes – echoing calls from Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for an £80billion stimulus programme and an employment guarantee for young people.

At the last Prime Ministers Questions, Boris Johnson made a commitment to consider the recommendations of the Scottish Government’s Economic Advisory Group, which called for an accelerated review of the Devolved Fiscal Framework to ensure Holyrood has the powers and access to capital needed to fuel Scotland’s coronavirus recovery.

On the same day, the Fraser of Allander institute warned a second wave of covid-19 could delay Scotland’s recovery until 2024 – and the scale of the economic challenge could see a “raft of redundancies and business closures” without the necessary financial support.

Commenting, SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP said:

“It is crucial that Boris Johnson announces an emergency budget and makes a clear commitment to devolve the financial powers needed to secure a strong recovery from coronavirus in Scotland.

“These powers are the essential key to Scotland’s economic recovery.

“Without them the Scottish Parliament will be left tackling this unprecedented crisis with one hand tied behind its back – leaving our recovery at risk and threatening more redundancies, more businesses going under, budget cuts and prolonged damage to Scotland’s economy.

“Just as Scotland has had its own tailored response to the health pandemic, the Scottish Parliament must have the full powers that are necessary to shape our own economic response – so we can deliver a comprehensive recovery package that meets Scotland’s specific needs.

“Scotland can make different choices to protect jobs, strengthen our economy and build a fairer society – but only if we have the powers and funds needed for an investment-led recovery.

“These include the ability to reallocate capital underspend on day-to-day spending, additional borrowing powers with extended repayment periods, and more flexibility on drawing down reserve money – to deliver a significant increase in access to capital to stimulate our economy.

“With the normal powers of an independent country Scotland would be able to make the most of historically low interest rates to protect jobs and boost the economy – just as other countries are doing around the world.

“It is vital that the UK government introduces its own major stimulus package, meeting the ambition of the £80billion investment programme proposed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – with a jobs guarantee for young people to ensure another generation aren’t left behind.

“But a UK Government investment plan which is solely designed, directed and dictated by the Treasury in London can’t and won’t meet Scotland’s specific needs.

“The Scottish Parliament and Government are best placed to control and utilise additional investment powers to back our businesses and protect our people.

“If Boris Johnson is serious about resetting his premiership and securing a strong recovery – devolving these crucial powers are an integral first step for Scotland.”