THE last few years have been a challenge for everyone but, particularly, for those Scots trapped in unemployment.

So when companies announce new jobs, that news is welcome.

But we must move away from an economy built on the backs of the poor and build a new economy, where the national wealth is used for the benefit of all, not for corporation tax cuts or to promote low-paid, low-skilled temporary jobs.

We need to move away from the failed economic model of Thatcher, Osborne and Salmond and instead build a new moral economy that works for everyone.

Not an economy where we squander public money on tax breaks for a few but an economy where the national wealth is used for the benefit of all.

The biggest challenge facing our nation today is building a nation and an economy that creates wealth, distributes it fairly, and tackles the cost-of-living crisis.

This is the challenge that, together, we can meet.

To play its part, the Government should use investment and procurement strength to boost skills and enterprise, support firms who pay their fair share of tax and, crucially, who pay employees a living wage.

More than £10billion of taxpayers' money is spent on procurement each year.

This spending power should drive growth and change behaviour in the private sector.

It should be used to transform workers' rights and create a positive employment agenda, including banning zero-hour contracts and ensuring equality at work for women.

This is the change we can drive, by using Government investment and procurement to transform workers' rights and secure economic justice.

All governments must create stable conditions for growth to support business.

But this can never be at the expense of the real wealth creators: the men and women who, through their hard work and effort, have built this country; the worker on the factory floor, the carer tending to the frail and elderly, or the small business owner who takes the personal risks to create jobs.

Much of our country's wealth is created locally, by small and medium sized businesses. They make up 99% of all businesses and more than half of all private-sector employment.

These wealth creators need much more support from their Governments.

Giving £1.2 million to companies chasing after payday loans will not deliver the change we need.

That is why we should set up a pooled apprenticeship scheme to help small businesses afford high quality apprenticeships, and to help apprenticeships gain a wider range of work experience and skills.

The SNP could have invested that £1.2million in high-quality apprenticeships.

They instead chose to spend your money on a company chasing after those exploited by payday loan companies.

And their record on investment is not great. Everyone will recall their decision to give more than £10million to Amazon, but with no questions asked over whether they paid their fair share of tax or paid a Living Wage to their workers.

We could, and should, be doing better than that.