– in the Scottish Parliament on 30th September 2021.

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Photo of Daniel Johnson Daniel Johnson Labour

Today, the furlough scheme comes to an end. The most recent figures showed that more than 100,000 people in Scotland were still on furlough. Although the headlines might discuss labour shortages, labour market statistics show that the number of jobs in the economy is still significantly below pre-pandemic levels. Although the transition training fund is welcome, it will account for a small fraction of the jobs shortfall.

Does the First Minister think that her Government is doing enough to help people who might find themselves out of work at the end of this month, given the stress and anxiety, and the impact on household finances that they will experience as a result?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

We will continue to do everything that we can. The question about the need for us to look on an on-going basis at whether we are doing all that we reasonably can to help low-income families and to help people who are unemployed is a fair one. I certainly give the assurance that we will do that on an on-going basis.

I return to the answer that I gave to Anas Sarwar. I am afraid that we, and people across the country, are suffering the impact of decisions that are beyond the control of the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament. There will always be a limit to what we can do to mitigate the impact of those decisions. It would be far better if we did not have to go cap in hand to a United Kingdom Government to ask for furlough to be continued. It would be much, much better if we could take such decisions here in Scotland, in this democratically elected Parliament.

If Labour is serious about such matters—I respect the fact that Daniel Johnson is—it must stop holding to the position of merely willing the ends of things. It must get into a position in which it gives Parliament the means to do the things that we all want it to be able to do.