Nicola Sturgeon could destroy SNP’s lead with ‘ludicrous’ £2.5bn four-day week plan

Jacob Rees-Mogg says Scotland ‘beginning to see through SNP’

The SNP’s plan could blow a huge £2.5billion hole in the country’s economy, the Scottish Conservative Party have warned. Last month at the SNP conference, party members voted overwhelmingly in favour of a four-day working week by a margin of 1,136 votes to 70, calling on the Scottish Government to launch a review of working practices in Scotland, including the “possibility of a four-day week”. But employment law is still controlled by Westminster, meaning any policy aimed at reducing working hours could only be introduced if the SNP is successful in a second referendum on Scottish independence.

The Scottish Conservatives have branded the SNP proposal “absolutely ludicrous” and claimed it would cost the public sector at least £2.5billion to implement.

The party claimed delivering the plan would cost the NHS an extra £1.5bn, the education system a £430 million, the police an extra £431m, the fire service an extra £108m and the prison service an extra £43m – all before cutting staff salaries or public services.

The SNP currently occupies 61 of the 129 seats available in Holyrood, with the Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Labour trailing behind on 30 and 23 seats respectively.

A recent survey from Savanta ComRes, which quizzed 1,013 Scottish adults aged 16+ online from December 11-15, revealed 55 percent vote share for the SNP, with the Conservatives a distant second on 20 percent and Labour on 16 percent.

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But Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Fair Work and Culture Maurice Golden warned the “reckless economic policy could come back to bite the SNP at the next election”.

He told Express.co.uk: “The SNP are showing their true colours on reckless economic policy could come back to bite them at the next election.

“The plan would cost £2.5billion straight off, but that’s before you get into the issues of recruiting extra police, teachers, doctors and nurses to cope with reduced work practices and all the costs associated with that.

“This is a cavalier approach from an SNP Government that doesn’t understand basic economics.

“The economic impact on Scotland would be massive because there would need to be cuts elsewhere or indeed cuts to frontline services.

“That is something we can’t cope with at the moment, and particularly the pressure on the NHS to reduce working practices at a time when we are attempting to roll out a vaccine.

“To the man or woman on the street, that would seem absolutely outrageous.”

Mr Golden added: “If voters are informed about the potential of hurting the NHS and frontline services, they would be outraged by such a radical increase in costs and the knock-on impact on services and jobs.

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“To raise an additional £2.5billion with a track record of not growing the economy, it would have to involve hiking taxes but to such a level they would be astronomically high.”

But the SNP have hit back at the criticism from the Conservatives, with MSP George Adam responding: “Once again the Tories are well out of step with the views of Scottish voters – in July a poll found that 70 percent would back a four day working week.

“The idea of a four-day week is one that is currently gaining momentum across the globe as we look to rebuild a different economy that is fit for the future.

“It is absolutely right that we discuss progressive policies like this as we look to improve the lives of people in Scotland and support our economic recovery in the coming years.”

Speaking in favour of the motion that was voted on at the conference last month, SNP member Lee Rob insisted a 32-hour working week with no pay reductions would be the “ideal model”.

He said: “Everyone’s lives revolve around their jobs, and if we can promise that independence will make that arrangement just a little bit easier, then Yes starts to look like a more tantalising option on the ballot paper to those who otherwise might not have been persuaded.”

If the SNP press ahead with the plan, it would mirror a pledge made by the Labour Party in their manifesto for last December’s general election, with then-leader Jeremy Corbyn promising to cut the full-time weekly work to 32 hours in within a decade and without worker salaries being reduced.

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