LABOUR’S Shadow Chancellor has pledged to “buy, make and sell more in Scotland” as she set out her party’s blueprint for economic recovery.
Rachel Reeves, in her first major intervention in Scottish politics since being named Shadow Chancellor, said her party would use public contracts to grow skills and raise standards – learning lessons from other countries including France and the United States.
Pointing to insecure supply chains exposed by PPE holdups during the pandemic, Ms Reeves has highlighted how Labour’s new proposal will seize long-term opportunities for the post-pandemic economy.
Labour has claimed that the SNP has failed to use its significant procurement spend to boost Scottish business, create jobs, raise environmental standards and improve workers’ terms and conditions.
Scottish Labour has proposed a local first approach to procurement to benefit Scottish businesses. The party said this should be accompanied by a better business pledge, requiring all businesses that benefit from public procurement to commit to paying the Scottish Living Wage and collective bargaining, and not using not zero-hours contracts or similar insecure work practices.
Before her trip to a manufacturing site in Renfrewshire with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, Ms Reeves said: “As we recover from the pandemic, we have a chance to seize new opportunities and shape a new future for Scotland and the rest of Britain.
“For too long, the people of Scotland have not had a government fighting to deliver jobs and growth in the country.
“121,000 Scots are unemployed, thousands of jobs in renewable energy have been lost and the country’s manufacturing base has been hollowed out.
“Only Labour will get our economy firing on all cylinders by giving people new skills for the jobs of the future here in Scotland, bringing security and resilience back to our economy and public services, and helping our high streets thrive again.
“That starts with our plan to buy, make and sell more in Scotland and the rest of Britain.
“From green jobs in manufacturing electric vehicles and offshore wind turbines, to fin tech, digital media and film, we must grow modern industries to build a long-term economy that provides good jobs and is built for the future.”
if elected to Westminster, the party would also call for every public body to award more contracts to British firms, and require public bodies to report on how much they are buying from businesses in this country.
Labour’s analysis of public contracts awarded by the Scottish Government suggests just £103 million (8%) of £1.2 billion is given to small or medium Scottish businesses.