The SNP has demanded an immediate U-turn on the Tory government’s decision to deny Scotland access to full furlough support outside of English lockdown periods.
Ian Blackford MP said the “outrageous” decision “demonstrates that Scotland will never be treated as an equal partner in the UK” – and called for an urgent U-turn and guarantee that Scotland will now receive full access to furlough at 80%, at any point required.
The SNP Westminster Leader said the Tory government has “deliberately hindered” Scotland’s response to the coronavirus crisis, by withholding support and blocking the devolution of financial powers, and said “the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is to become an independent country.”
It comes as the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) joined calls for a Tory U-turn, warning:
“We are deeply concerned at reports that the UK Government continues to oppose making available full furlough at 80% for Scotland at any point that it is needed. If true it would mark a new low point in the Government’s treatment of Scottish workers and public health in Scotland.”
Commenting, SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP said:
“The Tory government’s decision to deny Scotland access to full furlough outside of English lockdown periods is outrageous – and demonstrates that Scotland will never be treated as an equal partner in the UK.
“The SNP has been calling for a furlough extension, and the devolution of financial powers, for more than six months – but the Tories have refused to listen and failed to act.
“When Scotland needed furlough support, Westminster said no. It is a democratic disgrace that Westminster only acted when England needed support – leaving Scotland high and dry.
“There must now be an immediate U-turn, with a guarantee that Scotland will have full access to furlough at 80%, at any point it is required – as determined by the Scottish Government.
“For many it is already far too late. As a result of Tory cuts, thousands have already lost their jobs unnecessarily, many good businesses have gone under, and millions have been excluded. We now face a Tory unemployment crisis – and the blame lies firmly with Boris Johnson.
“By withholding financial support and blocking the devolution of powers, the Tory government has deliberately hindered Scotland’s ability to respond to this crisis and damaged our economy.
“Yet again, Scotland has been completely ignored by Westminster. It is clearer than ever that the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is to become an independent country.”
Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, who is “tired of seeing Paisley people suffer unnecessarily at the hands of the Tories”, was equally disgusted by the recent turn of events and said:
“First and foremost, I think it is abysmal to politicise or play favourites during a global pandemic when the main aim of the Government should be saving lives, protecting the NHS, and making sure people’s livelihoods are saved and there for them when we return to some semblance of normality.
“But it would seem that Boris Johnson and his cronies didn’t get that memo and are quite happy to only act when the South of England needs support.
“As Mr Blackford rightly said, the SNP has been calling for a furlough extension for months now – but like many things, these calls have fallen on deaf and uncaring ears.
“It is frankly a disgrace that no clarity or reassurance has been given to the Scottish people that the furlough scheme will be extended to us if we need it and personally I’m sick of seeing my constituents suffer due to the negligence and indifference of the UK Government.
“I can only hope Westminster U-turns on this and doesn’t leave Scottish jobs – and people – in the firing line, but to anyone still on the fence about Scottish Independence; I urge that you take a long and hard look at how we’ve been treated during this pandemic.
“We deserve better.”