23 June 2020

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon, Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard welcomed the recommendations in the Benny Higgins economic recovery report, but urged that more must be done to light a burning flame of hope for a better Scotland.

Welcoming the call for a Jobs Guarantee Scheme, which Scottish Labour has long called for, Richard Leonard questioned the delay to the implementation of the Scottish Child Payment, stating:

“For those of us who lived through times of mass unemployment and know what it does to the fabric of society, to the fabric of families, the unequal burden of it, it is important that the Advisory Group clearly and explicitly say that there can be no repeat of the mistakes of the 1980’s.

“Which is why the decision to delay the Scottish child payment, just at the point when child poverty in Scotland is going up, needs to be reversed and reversed fast.”

On other issues, Richard stated that the report does not go far enough.

Richard said: “It does not properly recognise the need for economic planning, and the importance of a national plan for the Scottish economy.

"It does not properly recognise the importance of bringing together employers, trade unions, government and agencies to democratically plan at an industry level where we want to be, not just next year, but in five years’ time and in ten years’ time.

“We need a plan which is comprehensive, and which works for the whole of Scotland. Which is effective, and action-oriented, which is focused on delivery and is accountable to this Parliament.

Concluding, Richard Leonard said: “We cannot allow the people to be demoralised.

"We must lift their spirits and give them hope to rediscover their self-confidence.

"Hope, a burning flame of hope, hope that we cannot go back to the old inequalities, hope that instead we can dare to not only think big, but dare to act radical as well.

"Hope for a just and green recovery, hope so that together we can build a better future, we can build a better Scotland.”

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