The Scottish Government should be “more ambitious” on reviving the economy by autumn, Scotland Office minister Iain Stewart has said.
Questioned on the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland programme if he had asked if the Treasury is prepared to extend the coronavirus job retention scheme past its October cut-off, Mr Stewart called for greater ambition from Holyrood ministers.
He did not directly answer the question about Treasury discussions, but replied: “I think the focus of the Scottish Government should be a bit more ambitious to make sure the economy is getting up and running by the autumn.”
Mr Stewart said it is “not helpful to focus on that specific scheme beyond October”.
Appearing on the same programme, Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing called for the furlough scheme to be extended.
The MSP said: “We do think that the assistance which will expire in October will be insufficient to achieve the primary objective here, which is to mitigate financial hardship for businesses who at the moment have no revenue but face overheads which continue to be paid.
“Our assessment is that the impact on tourism, even after resumption – which we hope will on July 15 in Scotland – will be so severe that longer-term help will be required.”
Pointing out that in parts of Scotland the tourist season runs from April to September, he said: “Therefore, to cut off support just at the time when the season ends from that point of view looks to be pretty draconian.”
Mr Ewing said he is “hopeful” through dialogue with the UK Government “we can actually achieve something” on the issue.
He added he is “pretty confident” almost all tourism activities will be able to resume north of the border from July 15, unless there is a second wave of the virus or localised spread.