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SNP spokesman Drew Hendry hit out at the Government’s furlough scheme for not protecting certain jobs such as, sole traders and freelancers. He called on the UK Government to give the Scottish Governmet the power to help the workers. But Alok Sharma tore into Mr Hendry as he explained how the UK Government’s furlough scheme saved 730,000 jobs north of the border.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Hendry said: “As we’ve heard many businesses; sole traders, freelancers and others have been left without support in this health emergency.
“They’re on their knees and they’re still getting no support.
“How can they rebuild their trade when his Government won’t help them?
“If this Government won’t help them, why won’t they allow simply adjustments to Scotland’s borrowing rules so the Scottish Government can step in.”
Mr Sharma replied: “Since he talked about support in Scotland, like many colleagues in this House I believe in the union and we must work together to support workers across the UK.
“Over 730,000 jobs have been protected in Scotland through the furlough scheme and he will also know that as a result of the additional money that the Chancellor announced at the summer statemnet, the total additional Barnett funding since March is £4.6billion.”
Mr Hendry pressed the Government over the money announced for Scotland in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s summer economic statement.
He said: “The Institute for Fiscal Studies has exposed that the promised £800 million of consequentials for Scotland from the Chancellor’s job package is in fact only £21 million.
“So will Alok Sharma now do the right thing by Scotland’s businesses and urge the Chancellor to replace the missing £779 million or has he also bought into the Prime Minister’s stated view that a pound spent in Croydon is of more value than a pound spent in Scotland?”
Mr Sharma responded: “(Mr Hendry) talks about supporting business in Scotland and what I would say to him is that perhaps he would then come forward on the UK internal market White Paper which we published and give his support for that.”
Their row comes as Hospitality workers have voiced concerns about employers using the job retention scheme to make “opportunist lay-offs” and pay wages during statutory notice periods.
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A small number of hospitality and tourism workers held a socially distanced protest outside Parliament Buildings on Tuesday calling on Economy Minister Diane Dodds to take action.
The demonstration organised by the Unite union also highlighted an alleged failure by Stormont to engage with workers while developing its post-lockdown economic recovery plans for the region.
Unite representative Neil Moore said research commissioned by the union indicated that between 10,000 to 15,000 hospitality workers face the threat of redundancy in the coming weeks.
“What we are seeing is a knee-jerk reaction to offload staff before the end of July which is obviously in line with the end of the job retention scheme in October,” he said.
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