Chancellor Rishi Sunak should take inspiration from US president Joe Biden to avoid “failures of the past.”
Ahead of today’s Budget, Ian Blackford said he fears “more of the same” from the Chancellor after a decade of austerity under Conservative governments.
And the SNP Westminster leader insisted the UK should look towards the response of President Biden after the House of Representatives passed a 1.9 trillion dollars Covid relief bill.
Blackford said: “I think what the Covid pandemic has shown is the basic inequalities that exist in the UK and obviously we called right at the start of this to make sure there was enough financial support in place for everybody.
“And you’ll remember the Prime Minister promised to put his arms around everybody in the UK and that’s not been the case.
“There’s problems with those that have been excluded, there are those that are having to rely on Universal Credit.
“And I have to say, when I look at the outcomes and I look at for example the increase in food bank use, it’s pretty shocking and you have to remember that the starting position was that so many people were already in poverty.”
He continued: “Everything that we’re seeing today is really on the back of what’s been the wrong choices that have been made over the last 10 years, with taking cash out of people’s pockets rather than putting cash into them and we cannot go back to everything we’ve had over the course of the last 10 years.
“And you’ve seen the economic stimulus program for (US President) Biden and I think we need to take a leaf out of his book.
“And I would go as far as to say I think there has to be a co-ordinated response from the G7 and G20 because you’re not going to solve the debt crisis that we’ve got either by increasing taxes or by cutting spending. You can’t cut your way to recovery.”
Blackford added: “We mustn’t repeat the failures of the past and my fear is what we’re going to get from the Chancellor on Wednesday is going to be more of the same.
“It’s going to be very much this agenda of when to increase taxes and when to cut.
“These are the wrong responses, it doesn’t have to be about cutting, it has to be about the responsibilities that we’ve got to deliver growth.”
The MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber also outlined the importance of ensuring that financial support remains available for people whilst lockdown measures remain in place.
Asked how long the furlough scheme should be extended for, he said: “For as long as the economy is facing lockdown measures because the key thing really is that we need to make sure that we retain capacity within the economy, that we support businesses, we support individuals so that they have got the tools that they need at their disposal to emerge from the removal of lockdown when it comes.
“So however long it takes, these support mechanisms have to be in place because if we end up in a situation that people are unemployed, and if we end up with a situation where businesses are having to close, then we deepen the problems.
“And given the fact that Government has rightly created the circumstances of lockdown, we need to make sure that that financial support is there for people.
“But if I may say so, it’s not just about those that are currently benefiting from furlough, it’s those that have taken up jobs over the course of the last few months and technically are excluded from furlough.
“But it’s also about the 3 million excluded, they need to be given support. We cannot continue for one day longer with a situation that many people are falling through the net, it’s not acceptable.”