IAN Blackford has called on the UK Government to “recognise the scale of the challenge” facing the economy and match the ambition that has been handed out to keep businesses going through the lockdown.

The SNP’s Westminster leader has set out his party’s “five-point plan” ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivering his economic statement on Wednesday as to how the UK Government will re-start the UK economy.

Mr Blackford has re-iterated calls from the Scottish Government’s Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, demanding public spending investment or hand over more powers to Edinburgh to borrow more to help re-start Scotland’s economy.

Mr Blackford pointed to the package in Germany where four per cent of the country’s GDP will be spent.

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Speaking on Sky's Ridge On Sunday, he added that an investment by Boris Johnson of the same ambition would mean “about £80 billion to kickstart the economy”, adding that “we have to give people hope”.

Mr Blackford added: “We need to see the devolution of powers to Scotland so that we have the powers to deal with the virus we need. We also need to extend the furlough scheme.

“Many businesses are going to see a difficult period ahead of them and we need to support businesses through that – the hospitality and tourism sector, for example. The furlough scheme must remain in place for those that need it and it must be done on the basis of a four-nation approach.

“We also need to see investment to deal with child poverty. I’d back calls that we’ve had form the Resolution Foundation, for example, for a £20 increase in the child element of Universal Credit and wokring tax credits.”

Mr Blackford pointed to a “reduction in VAT for a fixed period”, as well as a “two pence reduction in National Insurance contributions to protect jobs”.

The SNP Westminster leader wants to see a “robust package” to give confidence to the public and businesses. His party has criticised the £5 billion recovery package outlined by Mr Johnson last week, with questions over whether it is new money and no funding allocated for Scotland.

Mr Blackford added: “We need to recognise the scale of the challenge.

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“The House of Commons Library has indicated the potential increase in unemployment to 3.8 million – that is a price that is not worth paying for a crisis that’s not the fault of individuals or businesses. Government has to show leadership.

“What we saw last week from the Prime Minister was a missed opportunity. If we can contrast what’s happened with quantitative easing, rightly, there’s been a £100 billion investment through the Bank of England in the month of June, we need to have the same scale of evidence of action form the Government in fiscal measures to match what we’ve done in the monetary field.”