Chancellor’s statement ‘halfway to common sense’
After two and a half years in office the Chancellor has finally heeded Scotland’s calls to boost capital spending and allocated £330 million of new spending to Scotland over the next two years. The Chancellor’s recognition that he needs to invest is welcome, but he has only come halfway to a common sense solution.
The UK Government still lacks a coherent plan to return the economy to growth, and has only come up with half the investment Scotland needs.
I will confirm shortly how we will allocate this funding for the coming year to secure jobs across the country. The Scottish Government has already invested £485 million extra in stimulating the economy and we will continue to invest at every chance we get.
Scotland continues to face a 26 per cent cut to capital budgets over the last three years and the Chancellor’s decision to extend his cuts programme to 2018 show how badly his plan has failed.
The Scottish Government is already doing everything it can to stimulateScotland’s economy to protect households, business and front line services. Households across Scotland are benefiting from a continued council tax freeze, concessionary travel, free prescriptions and public service workers from a modest pay increase. The NHS is seeing increased levels of funding and schools will benefit fromScotland’s Schools for the Future building programme. Businesses across Scotland are saving up to £2,000 a year through the Small Business Bonus Scheme.
Where we are supporting households the Treasury’s own figures show that as a result of yesterday’s budget statement households across the UK will be worse off. The average household will lose 1 per cent of their income as a result of this spending squeeze and those on the lowest incomes will be amongst the biggest losers. When prices are rising and times are tough that will only increase the pressure on families and hurt out economy more.
Yesterday’s budget statement confirmed, loud and clear, that the only certainty now offered by the UK is five more years of public spending cuts.