We have a chance to set out a budget that would deliver a real recovery for Scotland.
To use the powers we have to invest in building a fairer, more prosperous country. But it will take ambition.
On Thursday, Scottish Labour will set out a bold yet credible set of priorities for this budget, each one targeted at helping us rebuild.
It’s clear there will be no real and lasting recovery without an economic recovery.
The turmoil of the last two years has many sectors, such as hospitality, leisure and retail, bruised and facing a skills deficit.
Just look at our High Street and it’s clear to see the stakes have never been higher.
What we need to see is an ambitious push for at risk sectors to receive the staff with the necessary skills they need to survive.
And while people are desperate for work, many businesses are just as desperate for staff – but the skills gap has become a gulf.
We owe it to those looking for work to be ambitious in this budget – to invest in their skills, and make sure no more opportunities are stripped from them by the pandemic.
But the SNP’s flagship jobs programmes fall woefully short.
These timid schemes will only help a small fraction of the people looking for work. They will leave people in unpaid roles and call it a success.
This is not the time for tinkering around the edges, hoping more of the same will suddenly yield different results.
Scottish Labour has proposed the most ambitious job creation scheme in the history of devolution – a historic response to a historic challenge.
Our Skills for Recovery Fund would guarantee a job for at least six months for every young person in Scotland and anyone struggling with long-term unemployment.
It would include a focus on reskilling and upskilling, so we can tackle the dual challenges of unemployment and staff shortages and build the workforce of the future.
If we are to seize this chance to rebuild our economy so it is stronger, more resilient and more inclusive, this is the scale of action needed.
Because high-quality jobs are the key to building a fairer Scotland. There is no way tackle the challenges we face – from poverty to inequality to ill health – without confronting the low pay and unemployment driving them.
Our recovery depends on us getting this budget right.
Scottish Labour will be setting not just our priorities for the budget, but our vision for Scotland.
But while we are building that alternative for the future of Scotland, we will always work with the government to make things better in the present. I urge the SNP to listen to our asks and work with us make them a reality. Not for my sake – but to improve the lives of people across Scotland.
We don’t have to follow the lead of the callous Tory government or continue the SNP’s uninspiring record of failure.
We can choose a different path here in Scotland. We have the powers – all we need is the political will.