More support needed to support Covid-hit business says Labour

Extended Covid restrictions mean urgent support is needed to support Scotland’s businesses on the “brink of collapse”, Scottish Labour has warned.

Daniel Johnson
Daniel Johnson

The party’s finance spokesman Daniel Johnson said the Scottish Government needed to devise and publish “a clear set of business support protocols to be applied each time restrictions are imposed to end uncertainty for employers and employees".

He said that £300m of “£1bn unallocated Barnett consequentials” – a sum contested by the Scottish Government which has said there is no unallocated money – needed to go to preventing further job closes and closures.

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Mr Johnson said that the government had failed businesses which have complained of restrictions as a “never-ending hell”, forcing the First Minister to admit there had been “poor communication” with businesses.

And he said Scotland’s economy was in a “fragile state” with unemployment on the rise and GDP contracting by 1.9 per cent.

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Mr Johnson said: “Businesses across Scotland are at breaking point. With our economy still reeling from the pandemic, it is the duty of the Scottish Government to do all that it can to support business and protect jobs.

“The Scottish Government has failed repeatedly to communicate properly with businesses and give them the support that they need.

“Businesses need support now and they need clarity from the government above all else.

“That’s why Scottish Labour is calling for more funds to be put towards vital business support and for the Scottish Government to publish a clear business support protocol to provide employers with certainty.

“We cannot play fast and loose with our economy and the jobs that it sustains. It’s time for the SNP to wise up to the threat posed to Scottish businesses and act to protect their future.”

The Scottish Government has said that more than £3bn in support had been provided for business since the start of the pandemic and added “every penny” of Barnett consequentials, received as a result of pandemic spending in England and Wales, had been committed to support Scotland’s businesses and their recovery as well as the NHS, other public services and the rollout of vaccines.

Meanwhile the SNP has warned that the UK government risks a "wave of redundancies" after failing to extend key Covid financial support schemes following an extension of lockdown measures.

SNP's Shadow Chancellor Alison Thewliss MP said: "Despite extending lockdown measures to tackle the pandemic – which will impact on businesses and workers – the UK government failed yet again to heed the calls to extend financial support schemes to help businesses and households in dire need.

"The reality is that refusing to extend the furlough scheme risks a wave of redundancies. Businesses have been building up significant debt, and many can’t afford the additional wage costs being forced on them by the UK government in the midst of further restrictions.”"There is still time to act and I urge the Chancellor to remove the jobs cliff-edge and extend employment and income support schemes for as long as our public health policies require it.”

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