Demand for change
Leonard wants borrowing powers and National Care Service
Richard Leonard: care should not be poor relation
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has called for the Holyrood parliament to be given more borrowing powers to rebuild the economy.
Mr Leonard said more borrowing powers would provide the investment that is required now.
He said Westminster should reallocate around £800 million per year from the current EU contribution to the Scottish Parliament’s budget, in addition to Barnett formula funding.
He added that Scotland must “draw down on the benefit of being part of a stable and credible monetary union” and is backing the IMF’s call for countries with ‘fiscal space’ to run deficits to promote growth.
He said the OBR reported last month, “One silver lining to the current fiscal cloud is that it remains relatively cheap for the government to borrow – and indeed it has become more so.”
Mr Leonard said: “So my call today is that Boris Johnson’s government must unleash the monetary fire power to stimulate Scotland’s economy. In 2020 we have seen the need for a brighter vision of the future based on communities united, and as we look to the next Programme for Government.”
Mr Leonard also called for the establishment of a National Care Service, with national standards for service users and staff.
“It means a new care service that can create 25,000 quality jobs – building a sustainable workforce that can care for our ageing population,” he said in a strategy announcement on YouTube..
“Never again can our care service be treated by government as a poor relation of the NHS. It is time to care about care and restore dignity to our care system.
“Never again can fifteen minute visits be an acceptable standard of home care.
“Never again can precarious employment contracts mean a continued rotation of home carers.
“And never again can those working people who keep our care service running be left to languish on poverty pay.
“The way we value our older citizens says a lot about the kind of society that we are.
“And for Scottish Labour, a National Care Service that puts the dignity of our elderly at the heart of all decisions is a powerful expression of the new society, the fair economy, the post Covid Scotland that we must create.’
He called for the economy to be re-imagined with a renewed emphasis on investing in and so diversifying the manufacturing base and skills.
He pledged to build 12,000 council homes each year, to the highest energy efficiency standards.
“And to carry out this work we will establish a new Land and Communities Development Agency to employ and train thousands of new workers,” he said.
His plans for green transport include investment of £200 million in rolling out electric vehicle charging points.
“We can move away from low-paid, insecure work and towards the “sectors of the future” such as those that are necessary to decarbonise the economy. Not only will this create apprenticeships and jobs for our young people, but it will provide retraining opportunities for all working people.”
In a Zoom call with the media, Mr Leonard insisted there would be no change in the party’s position on independence or on a second referendum and that the voters wanted to focus on other issues, such as the economy.
“We will go into next year’s election opposing a second referendum. It will be in our manifesto,” he said, stating that Labour did support a greater devolution of powers.
“I do not think that if Scottish Labour were to support a separate state that we would romp away in the polls.”