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Scottish government should take bolder action on Covid inequality

THE Scottish government should be taking bolder action to ensure that it does not “accelerate existing inequalities” in its response to the Covid crisis, MSPs were told today. 

Representatives from the Poverty Alliance, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and progressive think-tank Common Weal urged ministers to take “bold” action to support minorities and the working class in Scotland. 

Giving evidence at Holyrood’s Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee, the three groups warned MSPs of the impact the pandemic would have on Scotland’s businesses, workers and the economy. 

Poverty Alliance director Peter Kelly said that there had been a long-held acceptance within the government of the need to move towards a wellbeing economy, but this “rhetoric” is not always supported with action. 

Mr Kelly said “far more needs to be done” to ensure what doesn’t happen “is that we accelerate inequalities.”

He added: “For people who are living on low incomes, the experience of economic injustice and inequality was all too common for people going into this crisis which has been magnified by the Covid crisis and our necessary response to this.”

There were also warnings that the coronavirus could have as big an impact on Scotland’s economy as the loss of heavy industry did in the 1980s. 

Common Weal director Robin McAlpine warned MSPs that the Covid-19 pandemic could have “as much of a disruptive impact” as the Thatcher-era, which saw Scotland lose much of its traditional heavy industry.

He suggested that government support should be focused on manufacturing, high-quality service jobs and those in the green economy.

He added: “That is the kind of scale we are talking about here, a permanent restructuring of the economy.”

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