Autumn Statement must support sustained economic growth
The Scottish Government is doing all it can, within its powers, to strengthen the Scottish economy. The latest Scottish GDP figures show the economy has grown continuously over the last two years, while our employment, unemployment and inactivity rates are the strongest of the four nations of the UK.
However, there is clear evidence that economic and geographic inequality is inhibiting growth and successive UK budgets and Autumn Statements have under-delivered and undermined the Scottish Government’s ability to support economic growth.
Efforts to tackle economic inequalities in Scotland are being made in the face of a welfare reform programme that is estimated to remove £6 billion from Scotland’s economy in the six years to 2015-16. Pursuing a policy of continued austerity and welfare cuts will have a significant and detrimental impact in Scotland and will have a disproportionate impact on not only Scotland’s but many of United Kingdom’s most vulnerable citizens.
The Scottish Government believes that now that economic recovery is established, action should be taken to reverse the erosion of the pay levels that those receiving the National Minimum wage have experienced since the economic downturn. We believe that the National Minimum Wage should, as a minimum, increase in line with inflation.
It is also vital that we tackle geographic disparities and use large scale infrastructure projects to maximise opportunities for economic growth in Scotland and across the UK, rather than strengthening existing economic imbalances which benefit the South East of England.
In that spirit I call on the Chancellor to increase infrastructure spend to support growth. Such investment in the future of our country’s economic health will not only create jobs and prosperity but will, in time, boost the public finances.