AFTER the chancellor’s belated and temporary U-turn on the extension of the furlough scheme came the dreaded spending review.

And with the predictability rhythm of a well-made watch, the Tories decide to address a struggling economy with another round of austerity but made no mention of those who have made a truly enormous amount of money from the crisis.

Despite their claims that public services are a priority, the chancellor froze workers’ pay and tossed some crumbs to those on the lowest incomes.

The entire public sector has been the backbone of our response to the coronavirus pandemic and yet the chancellor sees fit to deliver punitive cuts in response.

We should be clear: “freeze” is a euphemism. While the number on public sector worker’s payslips won’t change, their spending power will be much reduced.

This is a consistent pattern with the Tory governments we’ve suffered under over the past decade.

Crushing public sector wages into the dust, while simultaneously creating an environment in which public services are the only things holding some communities together. It is wilful, and it is cruel.

While delivering his statement the chancellor attempted to appear solemn, talking in serious tones about static private sector wages and suggesting this created a moral imperative for him to cut wages in the public sector.

Of course, this isn’t true and Mr Sunak’s ability to keep a straight face while delivering the statement was admirable.

Firstly, he has the power to address poverty wages in the private sector but chooses not to. The laughably titled “National Living Wage” is increasing by mere pittance and remains some way off the real living wage, set independently.

On top of that the higher rate only available to those aged 25 and over, leaving thousands of young people massively underpaid for their labour.

Secondly, there are those who have made vast quantities throughout this miserable pandemic. Supermarket bosses and Amazon have lined their pockets while friends and donors to the Conservative party have received enormous public contracts.

But a Tory Government will never ask them to cough up, preferring instead to send the bill to you.

The most vulnerable have needed the most support during this pandemic and that will continue to be the case as we emerge from the crisis.

While the Scottish Government is stymied to an extent by decisions made at Westminster, there have been worrying missteps that suggest ministers in Edinburgh haven’t fully grasped that.

As a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Covid-19 committee I’ve been pressing the Scottish Government to ensure self-isolation support for people on low pay is ample and available.

People on low pay often also have poor conditions as well, leaving them vulnerable being pressured into work by unscrupulous bosses when they should be in isolation.

Sadly though, the current self-isolation support grant isn’t available for people in low paid, insecure work. Equally, support for renters in Scotland has been largely insufficient.

The principle that those with the broadest shoulders should carry the greatest burden of this terrible pandemic should be a simple one.

We should never be surprised by the Tories refusing to do the right thing, and I’ll keep pressing the SNP at Holyrood to make sure they don’t stray down the same path as their London counterparts.