Speaking in the Scottish Parliament earlier today, Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan gave his backing to the Programme for Government unveiled this week by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The islands MSP also used his speech to call for more public sector jobs to come to areas like the Western Isles in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased focus on homeworking.
The Programme for Government contains a number of commitments aimed at ensuring a strong economic recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic. Under the commitments, all young people in Scotland aged 16 to 24 will be guaranteed a job, education, apprenticeship or formal training through a new £60 million government scheme. By this Autumn, a £100 million Green Jobs fund will be launched to help up to 10,000 people of all ages retrain for jobs in growth sectors such as renewables.
The SNP government has also announced a new £10 million Tenant Hardship Fund, which will open later this year and offer interest-free loans to those unable to access other forms of support for their housing costs. A comprehensive independent review of adult social care will also take place – setting out options for the creation of a National Care Service.
Alasdair Allan MSP said:
“We can’t simply go back to how things were before coronavirus. We have an opportunity to build back a fairer and better Scotland.
“I very much welcome the commitments announced in the Programme for Government this week. These protect people’s livelihoods, guarantee opportunities for all our young people and point the way to a future with better, greener jobs as Scotland looks to becoming a net-zero country.
“At the same time that we are considering the long-term cultural and economic changes brought by the pandemic, there is continuing anxiety about the shortage of working-age people in many rural communities. There needs to be more and more opportunities for people in the public sector to work either from home or from hot desks in rurally-based offices, or more likely, a combination of both. Just as importantly, it implies advertising people’s rights to do this, and planning for what this might mean in some of our most fragile communities.
“Unfortunately, the Scottish Government continues to fight coronavirus with one hand tied behind its back. Westminster’s plans to end to the furlough scheme prematurely and crash out of the EU without a deal later this year, will be deeply damaging.
“As an independent European nation, we could do so much more. That is why more and more people are seeing that the time has come for independence.”