Patricia Gibson MP has urged the UK Tory Government to commit to serious investment in the economy, the strengthening of financial and welfare measures and rule out a return to austerity following a damning report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The report warned that the UK will suffer the worst economic impact from the coronavirus pandemic of any developed country.
In its findings, the OECD forecast that the UK will endure an 11.5% slump in income this year, more than other developed economies, including Germany (6.6%), Spain (11.1%), France (11.4%) and Italy (11.3%).
The Scottish Government's Finance Secretary Kate Forbes MSP earlier renewed calls for the devolution of financial powers to protect Scotland’s economy, businesses and jobs from Tory austerity, stating that “the devolved arrangements were not designed for a health emergency and an economic crisis of this scale."
Commenting, Mrs Gibson said:
“OECD findings that the UK will suffer the worst economic impact of any developed country must serve as a wake-up call for UK Ministers to act urgently and invest to ensure a strong recovery, protect jobs and rule out a return to austerity.
“The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the economy and businesses. Sadly, Tory stewardship has only compounded matters, as we now endure economic turbulence with national income falling, businesses on the brink, and thousands of jobs on the line.
“If the UK Government is serious about recovering from this crisis it must follow the lead of other countries – including Germany, which announced a £116.4bn economic recovery package – rather than cutting support for businesses and workers in the coming months through diminishing it’s furlough scheme.
"Rather than repeating past mistakes such as a return to soaring levels of unemployment, pushing millions of people into further hardship and poverty, the Tories must commit to serious investment and strengthen public services and welfare protections.
“Devolved arrangements were not designed for a health emergency and an economic crisis of this scale and can only tackle it fully with greatly enhanced financial powers. The SNP Government has already made a request for more borrowing powers and that call must not fall on deaf ears.
“If the Tories don’t abandon the failed policies of the past and refuse to devolve powers then they risk ushering in a new era of austerity. That would decimate the economy, public services and people’s living standards for years to come."