The new leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross MP, has delivered on a promise to publish a plan for jobs and recovery within the first month of his tenure.
The plan, published today, would see new rural growth deals, similar to that of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal. It would also see planning restrictions freed up in town centres and a new high street adaptation fund to help rescue town centres across Scotland.
An innovative new plan to help people find work has also been proposed, with the creation of Scottish Job Security Councils like those found in Sweden. The government would set up sector specific job councils to help match laid off workers with new jobs.
A Tourism Infrastructure Fund to improve travel for tourists and protect local roads in rural Scotland outside the central belt is also being called for.
The plans also envisage changes to improve skills and education in Scotland. This would include a two-week paid internship for every fourth year pupil in Scotland to expose them to the world of work, as well as boosting support for lifelong learning to keep skills up to date.
Local politicians have welcomed the plan and highlighted the need to build back better to overcome the economic shock of coronavirus.
John Lamont MP said: “The unprecedented challenges of 2020 need to be met with a plan to keep people in work and our economy moving. The UK Government has already delivered by supporting tens of thousands of jobs across the Borders through the furlough scheme, and a package for stimulating the economy.
“For too long the Scottish Government has not used all of the levers available to it to drive Scotland’s economy forward. That must change. This blueprint by Douglas Ross would help stimulate our economy and recover more quickly from coronavirus.
“It would focus on local growth rather than keep power centralised in Edinburgh as the SNP have done since coming to power.
“This plan will power up Scotland. It will provide more opportunities for workers to upskill. Give local towns the power they need to rebuild their economy. And deliver new infrastructure projects to boost connectivity.”
Rachael Hamilton MSP added: “We need to see the Scottish economy firing on all cylinders again and Douglas Ross’s plan delivers a clear route to economic recovery.
“From sector-specific initiatives to help laid-off workers learn new skills, to a Town Centre Rescue Plan to help small local shops, this plan would benefit the Borders immensely.
“Our local economy has seen many redundancies in manufacturing and struggling town centres with the Covid-19 pandemic.
“There is help too for businesses affected by local lockdowns, which is much needed after the lack of support given to places such as Aberdeen.
“Economic stagnation has plagued Scotland for many years now, caused by SNP incompetence and an unwillingness to work with the UK Government.
“Douglas Ross’s plan delivers a positive vision for our economy, helping it to bounce back, grow jobs with accelerated infrastructure investment”.