Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, has called for focus to be on rebuilding local and national economies and supporting those who have been financially hit the hardest by Covid-19 as Scotland moves into Phase Two of the lockdown route-map.
This follows the announcement from the First Minister that the country would be moving into Phase Two of the lockdown route map, beginning on Friday 19 June.
Phase Two allows for a further relaxation in the type of shops that can open, the recommencing of professional sports and the ability for shielded individuals to go outside and take part in non-contact sports. The wearing of facemasks on public transport has also been made mandatory and the guideline to only travel a maximum of five miles for leisure activities still stands – although this no longer applies to visiting friends and family members.
Jackie Baillie has called for focus to be on protecting the economy as lockdown eases. She has called for an extension to the current Job Retention Scheme for businesses who will not be able to reopen to pay employees beyond the current period of the scheme. Baillie has called for particular support to be given to businesses in the tourism and hospitality industry – these businesses are expected to suffer financially long after other sectors have started to recover.
Jackie Baillie has also called for an increased level of support and protection to be given to those who have found themselves unemployed and unable to get a job just now. West Dunbartonshire has been hit particularly hard by Covid-19 related unemployment. Figures from the Department of Work and Pensions show that unemployment in the area rose from 2885 in March 2020 to 4440 in April 2020. West Dunbartonshire’s figure of 7.8% unemployment is only second to North Ayrshire’s 7.9% in terms of the highest rates of unemployment in Scotland.
Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“I welcome today’s announcement from the First Minister. The changes that will occur will come as a relief to many people who have felt lonely and isolated over the last few months. The decision to allow single parents and those living alone to form ‘extended households’ will provide a much needed level of support.
“However, I must stress that the threat of Covid-19 is still present. It is paramount that all social distancing measures are followed, face masks are worn when required and that you keep your social groups to no more than eight people and two additional households.
“I urge the Scottish Government to keep its focus squarely on supporting our economy and protecting those who have found themselves in dire financial consequences as a result of Covid-19. Scotland’s latest GDP figures show a staggering 24% fall and there are now hundreds of thousands of people across my constituency and the country who find themselves unemployed with little idea of when or if they will work again.
“We need a robust and immediate recovery plan for our economy and an extension of employment support beyond the current Job Retention Scheme period. Businesses and workers across Scotland will be suffering for months and years to come. The Scottish Government and the U.K. government must work together to must that long term support is in place to protect those in need.”