By Democrat reporter
UK Labour’s Anneliese Dodds and Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, pictured right, have come together and told the SNP government to “get off the sidelines and tackle Scotland’s jobs crisis”.
The Shadow Chancellor’s intervention, amid the deepening economic crisis caused by coronavirus, comes ahead of a visit to cultural venue Summerhall in Edinburgh with Leonard.
It is the first visit to Scotland of a UK Labour frontbencher under Keir Starmer’s, pictured top, leadership. The new UK leader has not yet visited in person but has held ‘Call Keir’ events and vowed to visit regularly.
Dodds is taking the opportunity to join Leonard in backing calls for the SNP government to do more to support working-age people, as figures show that the pandemic-fuelled jobs crisis will hit Scotland hard.
New data from Indeed UK, a leading jobs site, suggests that Scotland has suffered the highest fall in jobs vacancies in the UK – being furthest below last year’s trend among all UK regions, with a 58% drop.
Scotland’s unemployment rate of 4.5% is among the highest in the UK, while its working-age economic inactivity rate of 22.2% is also higher than the UK average, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Commenting on her visit and fresh demands of the SNP government, Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds said: “The impact of the public health crisis on Edinburgh is stark.
“I visit family here during the festival season every year, when the city is normally packed with performers and spectators. The local economy has clearly taken a huge hit from Covid-19, but we can’t just blame the virus for what’s happening.
“The Chancellor’s one-size-fits-all withdrawal of the jobs retention scheme is causing economic havoc across the UK, but just because the Tories have presided over a jobs crisis in Westminster doesn’t mean the SNP can be proud of their record in Holyrood.
“Scotland has the highest unemployment rate in the UK and has suffered the highest year-on-year fall in job vacancies. Nicola Sturgeon and her SNP government need to get off the sidelines and do much more to ensure workers who lose their jobs don’t end up in long-term unemployment.”
UK Labour has consistently warned the UK government of a growing jobs crisis, particularly in areas reliant on tourism, and the party launched a ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ campaign at the end of July.
The shadow Treasury team warned that a failure to reverse the “disastrous one-size-fits-all plan” adopted by Chancellor Rishi Sunak for ending the furlough scheme in October would be a “historic mistake”.
But despite the warnings from Labour and from think tanks who say the move risks “economic scarring”, government ministers are pressing ahead with plans to scrap the scheme, while other European countries have extended theirs.
Scottish Labour has urged the SNP to introduce a “full-time, well-paid jobs guarantee”, as well as to adopt a green economic plan in the form of a Scottish Green New Deal that would create 130,000 new jobs.
Leonard today said: “I am delighted to be joining Anneliese at Summerhall this afternoon, and I welcome her support for our Jobs for Good campaign.
“Edinburgh is unrecognisable from its normal self at this time of year, and that is a reflection of the huge economic impact that Covid-19 is having not just on our capital city, but on the whole of Scotland.
“Just as Scotland was unprepared for the public health crisis, so too are we unprepared for the developing economic crisis.
“The UK government must think again about its rash withdrawal of the furlough scheme, and the Scottish government must waste no more time in rolling out a quality jobs guarantee scheme before the furlough scheme ends.”
Scottish Labour will be contesting the upcoming Holyrood elections in May 2021 as the third biggest party after the SNP and Tories. The SNP is polling very well and currently has a 27-37% lead.
LabourList will be holding a live ‘in conversation’ event with Anneliese Dodds from 5.30pm on Tuesday, September 1st.