Scottish Labour will offer every adult in Scotland £75 to spend in non-food retail in an attempt to boost high streets.
Leader Anas Sarwar said he hopes the policy will save the nation’s high streets from further decline.
Under the £341 million offer, everyone over the age of 16 would be given a prepaid card for use in a non-food store, which would be time limited for six months.
Any cash left over from the scheme, the party says, would be donated to Scottish food banks.
Mr Sarwar said the benefits would be felt by the public at large as lockdown begins to ease and non-essential retail reopens in the coming weeks, while also supporting businesses forced to spend months shuttered in the past year due to Covid-19.
He said: “The last year has been tough for us all. The pandemic has separated us from our friends, families and neighbours.
“But amid the hope of an end to the public health emergency, we must recognise that Scotland still faces a job crisis.
“Without urgent and ambitious action in towns across this country, hundreds of thousands of people face a future out of work – with empty town centres hollowing out once vibrant communities.
“But it doesn’t have to be that way – the people of Scotland deserve a brighter future, and we have it in our power to act.
“This is bold and ambitious thinking to aid our economic recovery and get Scotland back on track.”
The Labour leader also pledged to provide a boost to the tourism sector, by offering a government-subsidised third night’s stay which can be used in hotels, guest houses, B&Bs, camp sites and other forms of accommodation.
While the scheme will be open to anyone from the UK and Ireland, it will only run on “off peak” days between September and November.
The £90 million fund would be accompanied by a £5 million advertisement campaign promoting Scotland as a holiday destination, both of which Labour says would be covered by Barnett consequentials coming to Scotland from Westminster.
Mr Sarwar added: “This scheme would invite people from across the UK to visit every corner of our beautiful country – saving jobs and creating a lifelong love of Scotland.
“This is a chance to reward Scottish families for their sacrifices in the last year and help keep fellow Scots in work to support our national recovery.
“A vote for us at this election is for a parliament focused on solutions, not divisions – a stronger recovery for every community and every family.”
Speaking to journalists on Friday, Mr Sarwar said his party is “leading the big thinking” in the election campaign.
He also hinted strongly at the possibility of a windfall tax on the profits of major companies who have benefited from the pandemic, which could be used to support the economy and small businesses.
When asked about the use of a tax to possibly extend the high street scheme, Mr Sarwar said: “I’m not going to pre-empt our manifesto next week, but I think you’re getting a clear enough signal from me about the competition and the way that Amazon in particular has been a huge beneficiary at the expense of our high streets.
“There does need to be a redress of that balance if we are going to protect jobs and protect the economy in Scotland.”
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