Covid-19 (Next Steps)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 9th July 2020.

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The First Minister:

This afternoon, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance will set out, in her own statement in the chamber, the Scottish Government’s response to yesterday’s statement from the chancellor, so I will leave it to her to do that.

As we did yesterday and as I have done throughout the crisis, we welcome the interventions that have been made, as far as they go—they are all important and welcome. Where there are consequentials from those announcements, we will continue to deliver their benefits here in Scotland, as we have done throughout.

We will take account of the different structure of the housing market in Scotland as we make decisions on stamp duty—the land and buildings transactions tax, as it is in Scotland. I read some comment from the Institute for Fiscal Studies this morning about the need to be careful around the impact of such decisions on first-time buyers in particular, and we will be particularly mindful of that. The finance secretary will address all those issues later.

Every penny of consequentials is welcome, but the additional cash to be delivered to the Scottish Government, particularly in relation to the employment aspects of the chancellor’s announcements yesterday, amounts to around £21 million, as the Fraser of Allander institute has confirmed. We will make sure that every penny of that benefits people in Scotland, but we want to consider what more we can do over and above that.

Over the course of this month, we will formulate a response to the economic recovery advisory group’s report. One of the central recommendations in the report was for a job guarantee for younger people. Yesterday’s announcement goes part of the way towards that, but of course we want to consider whether we can go further in Scotland and deliver something of scale and ambition that can avoid a legacy from Covid of increasing and substantial youth unemployment.