Responding to the Scottish Government’s Economic Recovery Advisory Group Recommendations, Peter Kelly, Director of Poverty Alliance said:
“Scotland entered this pandemic with an economy that was marked by stark levels of inequality that have made worse the impact of the crisis and still hamper recovery. Addressing inequality will be vital as we redesign our economy for recovery. If adopted, the recommendations in this report could put Scotland on course to be a more just and resilient society than the one we had going into this crisis.
“Especially welcome are proposals for a Scottish Jobs Guarantee that would prevent catastrophic levels of youth unemployment that would scar an entire generation. We also hope the Scottish Government will adopt recommendations to invest in badly needed affordable housing and digital infrastructure, and accelerate the embedding of Fair Work principles, particularly through business conditionality. The crisis has exposed the human cost of precarious work; it is only right than any support given to employers is predicated upon them treating people fairly.
“While these recommendations provide a good starting point for injecting fairness into our labour market, they do not offer much solace to people who will be reliant on our social security system. The crisis has made many people aware for the first time of how challenging it is to make ends meet on social security benefits like Universal Credit that often pull people into unaffordable debt. As we reconfigure our economy the Scottish Government must use its powers to ensure social security payments are increased to match an amount people can live on.
“The report says little about how Scotland’s taxation powers can be used to support the development of a wellbeing economy. Linking these powers to greater conditionality on business support is one way to use these powers, but to effectively support the reduction of inequality and poverty more creative thinking will be needed.
“The proposals in the Advisory Group’s report are a welcome first step to planning an economic recovery that works for everyone. However, addressing ‘the monumental scale and nature of this economic shock’ will require more than these modest proposals.”