Brown: Governments must work together on furlough scheme

Gordon Brown's think tank said there needed to be an 'unprecedented level of cooperation' to prevent jobs being lost.

The UK and Scottish governments must work together to create “fair furlough” and job guarantee schemes in response to the coronavirus crisis, Gordon Brown’s think tank has urged.

Our Scottish Future said there needed to be an “unprecedented level of cooperation” to prevent jobs being lost.

A report released on Friday said “current approaches by both Gvernments are deficient, and risk Scottish jobs falling between the cracks of partisan bickering”.

In his foreword to the report, the former prime minister says: “The restructuring of the employment market over the next three years is likely to be far more profound and extensive than at any time in the last 50 years.

“Little that has been announced so far for life beyond the end of the UK furlough scheme in October leads us to believe that sufficient attention has been given to the long-term challenges ahead, and to measures that will avert mass redundancies in the short-term.

“But I believe as strongly now as I did during the global financial crisis that if we can discover the courage to cooperate and the will to work together, then there is no reason why we cannot succeed in overcoming the present challenges and building a stronger society.”

He said there should be locally flexible furlough schemes if certain areas had to go into lockdown.

The report said both Governments should form an “alliance for full employment” to support jobs in the long term with a new industrial strategy and a “green-sea deal” to maintain the North Sea as the UK’s energy hub.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said Governments in Edinburgh and London should “properly engage” with the report.

“Today’s report is a clarion call to the UK and Scottish Governments – it’s time for them to work together to save and create jobs and to make full employment a goal of public policy again,” he said.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have repeatedly called on the UK Government not to withdraw the furlough scheme, which this report correctly notes is essential for the Scottish economy.

“The UK Government should follow the example of countries like Germany by extending furlough – and if they fail to do so then the necessary financial powers should be transferred to Scotland so that we can take the action needed here.

“Meanwhile, we are investing a total of £60m in a jobs guarantee for young people as part of £100m of Scottish Government investment for employment and skills which we announced last month.”

A Treasury spokesman said: “The Chancellor visited Glasgow and the Isle of Bute earlier this month and witnessed first-hand the positive impact that UK Government schemes such as the furlough scheme and Eat Out to Help Out have had on businesses and employees in Scotland.

“Most recent statistics show that more than 900,000 jobs across Scotland are being protected by the UK Government and as we move into the next phase our Plan for Jobs will create, sustain and support jobs in every corner of the UK.

“At all stages of the pandemic we have sought to work constructively with the devolved administration in Scotland and we will continue to do so.”

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