Scotland taxpayer warning: SNP’s £2.5bn four-day week proposal sets alarm bells ringing
Labour: Expert warns four day working week would be ‘difficult’
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”. Scottish employment law is still controlled by Westminster, meaning any policy aimed at reducing working hours could only be introduced by the SNP if the party is victorious in any second independence referendum. The Scottish Conservatives claimed delivering a four-day working week would cost the NHS an extra £1.5bn, the education system an £430 million, the police an extra £431m, the fire service an extra £108m and the prison service an extra £43m – all before any required cuts to staff salaries or public services.
Scotland’s economy grew 16 percent in the third quarter of the year between July and September – above the 15.5 percent average rise in the UK over the same period.
But over recent weeks, tougher restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus have been imposed across much of Scotland, with 11 council areas now under the strictest Level 4 measures.
Scottish Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop also warned Brexit will have an impact on the economy as the UK prepares to cut all ties with the European Union from January 1, 2021.
And in the latest dire forecast, the Fraser of Allander Institute think tank warned the Scottish economy may not recover to pre-pandemic levels until September 2023.
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Maurice Golden, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Fair Work and Culture, warned Scots could be faced with “astronomically high” tax hikes to pay for the multi-billion pound four-day plan from the SNP.
He told Express.co.uk: “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.
“To raise an additional £2.5bn 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.
“The SNP are showing their true colours on reckless economic policy and it could come back to bite them at the next election.
“They feed on grievance and the notion that independence will solve all of Scotland’s problems, and we all know that is not the case.”
The TaxPayers’ Alliance also lashed out at the plan from the SNP, with Media Campaign Manager Danielle Boxall warning: “Giving the public sector a four day week is an insult to hard-pressed taxpayers already facing a huge tax bill.
“This costly policy is made worse by the looming recession, where many ratepayers face losing their livelihoods.
“Instead of putting their feet up, public sector workers should continue to pull out all the stops to help those devastated by the coronavirus crisis.”
John Macdonald, Head of Government Affairs at the Adam Smith Institute, warned the SNP’s popularity could plummet with Scottish taxpayers if the party presses ahead with its plan for a four-day working week.
He said: “Given that Scotland would have to gain independence to implement such a policy, paying off that £2.5billion would fall to the Scottish taxpayer.
“If the SNP were honest about the true cost of an independent Scotland and a four-day week, they would likely be much less popular.
“The idea of working less for the same pay sounds great but will be much less appealing after being battered by the inevitable tax rises that follow.”
In direct response to the criticism from the Scottish Conservatives, SNP politician and MSP George Adam hit back: “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.”
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