Failing to extend the furlough scheme means the UK Government has “deliberately chosen” a road leading to mass unemployment, the SNP have warned.
The decision from Rishi Sunak to introduce a new wage subsidy scheme rather than extend the Job Retention Scheme at the end of October was likened by Ian Blackford to monetary and economic policy decisions made by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s which led to high unemployment.
The SNP’s Westminster leader warned of a “bitter winter” for millions of families due to the scrapping of the furlough scheme alongside the potential of a no deal Brexit.
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 per cent 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.”
The Job Support Scheme has been criticised for offering little support to businesses who are no longer viable due to the new Covid-19 restrictions.
Michael Grieve, the chair of the Night-Time Industries Association Scotland (NTIAS), warned the plans offer “literally no support” to businesses which are being forced to remain closed such as nightclubs and live music venues.
He said: “This new Job Support Scheme offers literally no support to businesses in the sector which are still forced to remain closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. The UK government has chosen only to support ‘viable’ businesses, completely ignoring those who have been unable to trade since March.
"This includes the entirety of the late night economy with nightclubs and live music venues in particular completely thrown to the wolves.”