The coronavirus crisis has left South Lanarkshire with enormous economic and social challenges which need to be tackled urgently, according to Council Liberal Democrat Leader Councillor Robert Brown.
Robert Brown said that the challenges needed a total and needle sharp focus from the Council and the Scottish Government if the local economy was to be revived, local firms supported, new jobs created and local people given the help they need.
Robert Brown went on:
“There must be no distractions. This is the biggest crisis which we have seen since the Second World War. Liberal Democrats have an eight point package which needs action from the Scottish Government and South Lanarkshire Council to deal with the immediate economic challenges, promote recovery in health and social care services and plan for future prosperity.
The package includes:
- Tackling the climate change crisis - a programme of energy conservation and green energy that can create jobs and bring long term environmental benefits. A retro-fit programme for home insulation will create jobs, tackle fuel poverty and cut carbon emissions.
- Reversal of the year-long delay in entitlement to 1140 hours of childcare. There will be no strong economic recovery without a strong childcare service.
- Better support for local businesses whenever government imposes a local lockdown. Local businesses should get grant support on day one.
- Action to help the millions excluded from existing support schemes. Millions of people, many of them contractors and creative freelancers, were left high and dry when they were ordered to stop work in March.
- A mental health recovery planto make up for the years of neglect of mental health before the virus. We need to expand the workforce and work to make a step change in the country’s mental health.
- A plan for Universities and Colleges – supporting students into new careers; new bursaries to attract students to train in key disciplines, testing - Testing for international students to keep them safe while they study at Scottish universities and Colleges.
- An immediate future-focused inquiry into the handling of the virus crisis.Scottish death rates have been among the highest in the world and we can’t afford a repeat if there is a second wave.
- More Care workers – and reform of their pay rates. Care workers played a key role during the crisis and they need to be properly paid.
The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government will be out on Tuesday. It really must deal properly with these challenges”