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Jenny Hjul said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon would “be dependent on the bailouts from the Treasury for some time to come” after KPMG revealed the Scottish economy is forecast to shrink by 6.8 percent in 2020. The warning comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was forced to admit Scotland faces a “colossal” economic crisis in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Her comments were in response to the news Rolls-Royce has put 700 jobs under threat in Renfrewshire, with another 200 at risk in Scotland’s Crieff Hydro hotel group and 1,000 at Ovo Energy.
Writing for the Courier, Ms Hjul pointed to recent comments by Andrew Wilson, Ms Sturgeon’s head of Growth Commission, who delivered a stark warning about the economy tweeting: “A tidal wave of job losses has begun. This should take equal focus with the health crisis as of now.
“Poverty will kill many more than COVID.”
Ms Hjul said: “The current SNP regime doesn’t pay much attention to business bosses, but their hopes must have been raised when a leading nationalist echoed their fears.
“The SNP will, of course, blame any hardship on the British Government, but the collapse of the Scottish economy, whoever is held responsible, will put a speedy end to prospects of independence.”
Ms Sturgeon has said her “heart breaks” thinking about businesses that have suffered a negative impact from lockdown measures.
Around 241 members of staff across seven locations in the Crieff Hydro Family of Hotels have entered a consultation period which CEO Stephen Leckie saying it has left him “personally devastated”.
During the briefing, the First Minister spoke of a “determination” for tourism to open up again as quickly as it is safe to do so across the country.
But Ms Hjul urged Ms Sturgeon to act urgently.
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She said: “Surely Sturgeon, taking her cue from Europe if she can’t stomach following London’s lead, can see that she must now throw her country a lifeline.
“At the moment, that only involves uttering a few words and unleashing the captains of industry to begin the rebuilding process.
“Later, she (or rather Rishi Sunak) will have to provide more concrete support. If she delays much longer it will be too late, as Stephen Leckie has spelt out.”
“Wilson said devolution can’t cope with the economic fallout of COVID or Brexit, let alone both, suggesting that Scotland will continue to be dependent on the bailouts from the Treasury for some time to come.”
Figures have shown a 63 percent increase in the number of Scots claiming unemployment benefits between March and April – with this slightly lower than the 66 percent average increase across the UK.
While, the furlough scheme and self-employment support have helped 774,200 Scots during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest UK Government figures.
Its statistics show 628,200 people in Scotland have been furloughed and 146,000 claims have been made to the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.
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