A £100 billion economic stimulus is needed in the Chancellor’s forthcoming Budget, according to the SNP’s Westminster leader.

Ian Blackford said a £98bn investment, equal to 5% of the UK’s GDP, is required to secure economic recovery.

He called for Rishi Sunak to extend the furlough scheme and provide further financial support, to “plug the gaps” and “ensure no-one is left behind”.

In an article for Scotland on Sunday, Blackford urged that a “repeat of Thatcher years” must be averted.

He said: “The SNP has repeatedly raised the plight of the three million people who have been completely excluded from Covid support, including many self-employed and freelance workers who haven’t been given any help by Westminster.

“After a year of excuses, the Chancellor must finally act.”

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Blackford argued that this Budget should invest in growth to meet the vast scale of the current economic challenge.

“That means a major fiscal stimulus of at least £98 billion – the equivalent of 5% of GDP – to protect people’s livelihoods and lay the foundations of an investment-led recovery.

“The UK economy has suffered a record slump, shrinking by 9.9% in 2020.

“UK unemployment has risen to 5%, redundancies are at a record high, and there are over 800,000 fewer people in work.

“We must not have a repeat of the Thatcher years – when the Tories left people on the scrapheap and caused lasting scars on our communities by failing to act,” he continued.

In response to Blackford, the Treasury said details of the plans to protect jobs across the UK will be announced in the Chancellor’s Budget statement on March 3.

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A spokeswoman said: “The UK Government has protected nearly a million jobs and thousands of businesses in Scotland since the start of the pandemic.

“And just this week the Treasury provided the Scottish Government with an additional £1.1 billion, enabling them to support people, businesses and public services affected by coronavirus.

“At the Budget the Chancellor will set out the next stage of our plan to protect and create jobs in all corners of the UK.”