Labour’s Anneliese Dodds told the SNP Government to get off the sidelines as Scotland plunges into what she describes as a jobs crisis.
The Shadow Chancellor’s challenge came just before she visited cultural venue Summerhall in Edinburgh with Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard today. The UK Labour frontbencher joined Leonard in backing calls for the SNP Government to do more to support those who have lost their jobs in the sectors like arts and culture, both in Edinburgh and across Scotland.
That call came just as the Scottish Government announced a £59 million funding package to protect Scottish culture and heritage.
A new £15 million Culture Organisations and Venues Recovery Fund will provide critical support to a range of businesses such as art galleries, studio facilities, comedy venues, large music venues, commercial theatres, orchestras, dance companies and nightclubs.
It will help to reduce the threat of insolvency, protect jobs and create conditions for a more viable and sustainable future for the sector.
The funding also includes £21.3 million for Historic Environment Scotland (HES) to protect jobs and support the reopening of properties in their care.
An additional £5.9 million will be made available to support heritage organisations through committed grants, and £270,000 for the New Lanark Trust will help secure the future of one of Scotland’s six World Heritage Sites.
The package also includes:
- £5 million to address the immediate financial hardship faced by creative freelancers
- £5 million to support artists to continue developing new creative work that will make a significant contribution to Scotland’s recovery from COVID-19, including £1.5 million for the Culture Collective programme to support organisations employing freelance artists to work in communities across Scotland
- £3.5 million for independent cinemas
- £3 million for youth arts including a funding boost for the Youth Music Initiative which will provide work for musicians
The Labour Shadow Chancellor said that new data from Indeed UK shows that Scotland has suffered the highest fall in jobs vacancies in the UK, with vacancies plummeting by 58 per cent between 1 February and 21 August relative to last year’s trend.
Scotland’s unemployment rate of 4.5 per cent is also the highest in the UK, while its working-age economic inactivity rate of 22.2 per cent is also higher than the UK average.
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.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard 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.”