Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has urged voters and politicians to put the recovery from Covid-19 first in next month’s Holyrood election.
Launching his party’s manifesto in Greenock, Inverclyde, on Thursday, Mr Sarwar spelled out five “national missions” for the recovery of the health service, education, jobs, the climate, and local communities.
Here are the key policies contained in the Scottish Labour manifesto:
Health and social care
Social care staff would be given a pay rise to £12 per hour, and work would be carried out with trade unions to eventually achieve £15 an hour.
Cancer diagnoses missed as a result of the pandemic will be tackled with the creation of a “catch up” programme for screenings, along with a rapid diagnostic centre in each of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas.
The party will also look to address the treatment backlog created by the pandemic by “urgently” investing in NHS systems and facilities, including harnessing the boost to digital care that has been seen during the pandemic.
Scottish Labour will introduce a job guarantee for anyone under the age of 25, unemployed people with a disability and those who have been out of work long-term. The guarantee would see them given a job in the public sector to support Scotland’s recovery, with the Scottish Government covering the first six months of their wage.
A new Scottish skills benefit would see a £500 grant given to those who choose to retrain, while they continue to receive benefits or furlough payments.
The party would recruit a further 3,000 teachers and 1,000 additional support needs assistants in the next parliamentary term.
Children heading back to school would also be given a personal comeback plan, which would be based on an individual assessment and would take into account the mental health of each child.
This year’s summer holidays would be used to recover the wellbeing of children who were forced to learn from home as a result of the pandemic, the party said, with its manifesto pledging to introduce a pass that would make sports facilities, transport, outdoor activities and cultural events free of charge for youngsters.
Any child who wants to resit exams will be able to do so, with Labour supporting a “resit guarantee”.
The party supports the introduction of safe consumption rooms to tackle the rising number of drug deaths in Scotland, and wants an increase in “community resources”.
Mr Sarwar told the PA news agency he would like to see more powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament – although he said Scotland has a higher rate of drug deaths than other parts of the UK with the same laws – and added he is “open minded” on the decriminalisation of drugs.
Mr Sarwar said he would be against raising taxes in the next parliamentary term, but conceded that if the policy is required, they should only rise for those who earn more than £150,000 if possible, or at minimum those earning £100,000.
The party has also pledged to set up a task force to consider a new tax on digital companies such as Amazon that would be used to benefit high streets.
As with other parties, Scottish Labour has pinpointed energy efficiency in homes as a key driver of climate change, pledging to upgrade all homes in Scotland to at least a grade C in energy efficiency by 2030 and, “where possible” making homes zero-carbon by 2045.
The party also suggests a Scottish conservation corps, which could employ up to 10,000 people, tasked with maintaining the natural environment.
A statutory just transition commission would also be set up as part of the party’s plans to move away from fossil fuels. It would be tasked with developing the country’s plans, while benefiting those who are unemployed or at risk of losing their job because of the transition away from fossil fuels.