SNP: ‘Deliberate choice’ to allow unemployment to increase

Ian Blackford said the UK government's decision to stop the furlough scheme will lead to a 'bitter winter' for families.

The UK Government has made a “deliberate choice” to allow unemployment to increase with their replacement for the furlough scheme, the SNP has claimed.

With the job retention scheme due to end next month, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on Thursday a new scheme to top up the wages of workers whose employers can only bring them back on reduced hours.

The scheme has drawn criticism from opposition parties along with the Resolution Foundation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies, who say it will not help to slow the tide of unemployment expected as the UK enters a second wave of coronavirus.

Ian Blackford, leader of the SNP at Westminster, has said that, paired with the UK’s departure from the European Union expected at the end of the year, the job support scheme will lead to a “bitter winter” for families across the country.

He said: “Millions of families face a bitter winter of rising unemployment and squeezed living standards – as a result of the Tory government’s reckless decision to scrap the furlough scheme and impose an extreme Brexit, during a second wave of coronavirus.

“The Tories have made a deliberate choice to let unemployment soar – just like Thatcher did in the 1980s.

“They are shirking their responsibilities to thousands of workers, who will now lose their jobs due to woefully inadequate support, and to the many good businesses who have been forced to close or reduce their activity through no fault of their own.”

Mr Blackford claimed the government at Westminster “cannot be trusted” with the governance of Scotland, adding it should become an independent country in order to protect its economy.

He added: “The Chancellor must think again, urgently reinstate a full job protection scheme and devolve the powers Scotland needs to protect our economy.

“If he won’t, the need for Scotland to become an independent country with full control of economic powers will be beyond doubt.”

A HM Treasury spokeswoman said: “The new UK-wide measures announced on Thursday include the Job Support Scheme to protect millions of jobs, extending the Self Employment Income Support Scheme and 15% VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism sectors, and help for businesses in repaying government-backed loans.

“This package was broadly welcomed by business groups across the UK, including Scotland.

“As the Chancellor has said, it would be fundamentally wrong to hold people in jobs that only exist inside the furlough.

“Our focus will continue to be on creating new opportunities for people in Scotland and supporting them into viable and secure jobs.”

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