LISTEN: Pete Wishart shares the findings of the Coronavirus in Scotland second report
In response to the Coronavirus in Scotland report Highland Perthshire MP, Pete Wishart, ‘suggests to the governments [of the united Kingdom] that they get together to ensure that if we do meet another crisis like that, much more important working operations are in place.’
Mr Wishart chairs the Scottish Affairs Committee in Westminster whose report investigated how Scotland’s economy has been impacted by the Coronavirus.
He say’s that Coronavirus ‘has taken a devastating toll upon Scotland’s health and Scotland’s economy’ during the pandemic.
Mr Wishart added: “It’s turned lives from the Scottish people upside down, but I think we owe a great deal of gratitude to those who’ve worked at the coal face throughout the pandemic, keeping people safe and keeping the economy ticked over.
“What we’ve found particularly is that there’s been unparalleled economic support from both the UK and Scottish Government’s which has made such a real difference allowing so many of our critical sectors to continue to work.”
While Mr Wishart finds many aspects of praise for both governments, he says that the committee has identified ‘fragmentation’s’ between the governments and their strategy.
“But we also found that there were certain structural failures and deficiencies in Scotland’s economy, mainly around having an adequate workforce which exacerbated the impact of the pandemic.
“We found that particularity in the social care sector’s in food and drink, and those involved in a lot in our exporting sector.”
This highlighted the biggest concerns for the report which mostly centres around immigration, which is a reserved power held by the United Kingdom where Holyrood has no power to make decisions.
Although the report did note that ‘the Scottish Government has alternative policy levers that it can use to make Scotland attractive for migration.’
Mr Wishart adds: “So we looked at some of the immigration aspects of all this and what we’ve recommended is that social care workers, health workers, should be included in the occupation list to ensure that they are optimally staffed and looked after.”
The occupation list is a list of jobs which are in high demand across the UK, the list offers easier access of immigrant workers into the UK.
Mr Wishart aims to see better corporation between the nations during crisis, he said: “This has been a big, big issue, for all of the four nations.
“We’ve seen unparalleled working together, but we’ve also seen fragmentation in how each of the governments have pursed their own approach.
“I think there’s so many lessons to learn from that, and we say that in our report, and we suggest the governments get together in order to ensure that if we do meet another crisis like that, much more effective working operations are in place.”
This conclusion has been the critical finding of the report which heard from Professor of Public Health, Linda Bauld, from the University of Edinburgh: “Let’s be frank, and I should have said this at the beginning, we have done appallingly badly by international standards with our excess mortality.
“We have not handled this pandemic well in any part of the UK.”
The report is aiming to improve this in future with suggestions on what can be done to improve the response and now the recovery of the British economy.