Responding to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s parliamentary announcement this afternoon, Scottish Greens Co-Leader Patrick Harvie MSP said:
“The Chancellor’s statement was big on rhetoric, but many of the announcements fall short of what’s needed.
“He said the Government was “not going to accept” unemployment and would “do all we can” to prevent it. Yet unlike other European countries which have extended their support for people’s incomes, he recommitted to the cliff-edge ending of the Job Retention Scheme in October.
“The “Job Retention Bonus” does have positive potential but is no replacement for the furlough scheme. The result will inevitably be a wave of job losses on a devastating scale.
“The Bonus itself sounds very much like past job creation schemes which have often under delivered. And there appear to be no requirements for fair employment practices, like ruling out zero-hour contracts.
“The Job Retention Bonus, the Kickstart scheme, and the emphasis on apprenticeships could all have a hugely positive role in raising employment standards if the will was there, but in the absence of clear criteria all three risk creating another huge problem of poverty wages. Apprenticeships in particular have a minimum wage of just £4.15 per hour, well below half of the Living Wage.
“The VAT cut for hospitality will help, and the £4bn scale of this benefit is significant. But once again this is a missed opportunity to attach conditions for high quality employment and a real Living Wage in a sector with chronic problem of poverty pay. It seems likely to give more benefit to the owners of business than to the people who actually do the work.
“Investment in energy efficiency and greener homes is absolutely vital, but there are problems of both scale and delivery. The £2bn ‘Green Homes Grant’ scheme must be seen alongside the £28bn roadbuilding programme, and the £10bn annual subsidy for fossil fuel industry.
“Delivering through a voucher system might work in some places, but across swathes of Scotland where tenements and flats are the norm, this individual approach will fail. Buildings need to be treated as a whole, and no voucher scheme can achieve that.”