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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon calls on the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to deliver a major stimulus package of around £80 billion for the economy

By Scott Maclennan

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Nicola Sturgeon.
Nicola Sturgeon.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called on the UK government to invest heavily in the economy, saying the country needs a stimulus package of around £80 billion.

She was speaking ahead of a keynote statement by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the House of Commons tomorrow.

Ms Sturgeon said a range of measures introduced by Westminster were warmly welcomed north of the border, but more needs to be done.

"The Scottish Government wrote to the UK government on Saturday to highlight again our view that an £80 billion stimulus program is needed for the UK economy," she said.

"To put that in context, that would be roughly comparable in ambition to the one Germany has recently adopted.

"We believe that the program should tackle inequality, support jobs and have a strong focus on investment in low carbon and digital infrastructure.

“We have recommended an employment guarantee for young people policy the Scottish Government is looking at ourselves, and we have called for a temporary cut in VAT to boost consumption, with especially low rates for hospitality and tourism sectors.

“And finally we have proposed that Scotland should have greater financial powers, for example over borrowing, so that we can play a part in and shape our own response to the economic implications of the pandemic.

“It is worth stressing again that the Scottish Government has on several occasions welcomed the policies adopted by the Treasury during the pandemic, such as the job retention scheme and this week’s support for the culture sector.

“We hope that we will be able to welcome tomorrow's statement as well, but for that to happen the policy put forward must meet the scale of the economic challenges that the UK faces and I very much hope that they will do."

Also at today's Scottish Government coronavirus briefing she said that a cluster of cases identified in Dumfries and Galloway appeared to have been brought under control, although she added there would "inevitably" be more such outbreaks as lockdown is lifted.

A total of 18,302 people in Scotland have now tested positive for Covid-19 – an increase of two from yesterday.

There are 699 patients in hospital with a confirmed or suspected infection, 17 more than yesterday, with seven being treated in intensive care, which is one fewer than yesterday.

A further one person who tested positive has died, taking the total number of deaths in Scotland under that measure to 2489.

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