For weeks the Tories have been promising us a ‘New Deal’. Instead, we got a Meal Deal.
It’s par for the course with the government: lots of talk but only half-baked delivery.
Faced with the biggest economic crisis in a generation, the Labour Party told the government to get serious and focus on jobs, jobs, jobs.
We welcome the Chancellor’s jobs scheme for young people. After all, it builds on the scheme that the Labour government in Wales already operates.
But on the big issue of the furlough scheme the Chancellor has ploughed ahead with his flawed “one size fits all approach”. His support doesn’t differ between sectors that can easily get back on their feet and those that can’t.
In fact, they have doubled down, with a £1,000 bonus to employers bringing staff back from furlough which is not nearly targeted enough. Much of this money will go to businesses who were bringing back employees already and would have done so anyway.
The risk is that billions will be wasted by policy making on the hoof that doesn’t protect jobs. Meanwhile, businesses who need more substantial, targeted support risk being left behind.
It is essential for jobs in Scotland that the support announced yesterday makes its way to businesses most at risk. The Scottish Government now needs to act quickly and decisively to ensure businesses receive this support.
And the UK government also needs to face up to the fact that the fiscal rules designed for normal times need more flexibility at a time of crisis such as now.
Finally, the announcement of money off meals betrays one of the biggest challenges facing the economy both in Scotland and England. The mistakes made by both Scottish and UK governments during the health crisis has created a new crisis: in consumer confidence.
Fear is corrosive. Fear hurts the economy. Fear stops people getting out and spending again.
We need to ensure measures like Test and Trace are working properly across the UK, and restore confidence in the health response so that the economy can grow. We cannot afford to get this wrong.