Douglas Ross has outlined 15 major Bills he said the Scottish Conservatives would steer through Holyrood to rebuild the country after the coronavirus pandemic.
Unveiling a manifesto he says represents a “positive policy programme”, the Tory leader vowed to “secure and accelerate our recovery from coronavirus”.
The blueprint includes an aim to end unemployment with plans for £500 “Retrain to Rebuild” grants, job security councils, rapid retraining courses, and an Enterprise Bill that would establish an economic development agency for every region.
It sets out a proposal for a “double lock” that would protect the NHS budget, and boost it through a £600 million taskforce to reduce treatment times.
A Communities Bill, meanwhile, would introduce a “Barnett formula for councils”, as well as £550m for “community investment deals” to drive local growth, and a change to planning laws to give local areas the final say over major developments.
The party said it wants new rates relief that would save the average shop more than £3,000, a £200m fund to tackle potholes, scrapping public car parking charges to help revive town centres, and a homebuyers tax cut saving people up to £2,100.
Other ideas include a Local Policing Act and a Victims Law, wraparound childcare to expand flexibility for parents, investing £1 billion over the next parliament in tackling the attainment gap, and increase teacher numbers by 3,000.
To help tackle climate change, there would also be a Nature Bill, Circular Economy Bill, an electric vehicle action plan, £2.5 billion to improve energy efficiency in homes, and a target to plant 18,000 hectares of trees annually.
‘Good jobs and growth’
Mr Ross said the manifesto outlined ways of “using the powers of the Scottish Parliament to their maximum, rather than complaining that they are never enough”.
The Moray MP and Highlands and Islands candidate said: “It is a positive policy programme, focused on rebuilding Scotland after the worst year that many of us have faced in living memory; on delivering an economic recovery that stops widespread unemployment and creates good jobs and growth in every part of our country; on supporting our education system to catch up every single pupil from a year of disrupted schooling – so that we do not face the prospect of a Covid generation left behind.
It is a programme that will ensure our recovery from coronavirus.”
“And funding our NHS to get through the backlog of a year of delayed operations.
“It is a programme that will ensure our recovery from coronavirus.
“Yet our manifesto does so much more than that, it sets out the issues that the Scottish Conservatives will fight for in the next parliament.
“For renewing our justice system, so that it is firmly on the side of victims and not those who commit crime.
“For devolving power and funding to communities, so that we can put an end to the era of SNP centralisation and better support local services, like schools and roads.
“For creating a dynamic, innovative green economy that works with business to drive a skills revolution and achieve our 2045 net-zero ambition – and so much more.”