Swinney: Budget proves need for more powers

The UK’s Budget is further proof of the need for Scotland to have control over its own finances, John Swinney said, as new analysis shows how families are better off as a result of Scottish Government policies.

With the IFS estimating that UK Government policies will cost average households £790 a year, the analysis highlights the benefits to individuals and families of Scottish Government measures to boost economic confidence. For a family with a child at university, that could amount to a saving of around £10,000 a year as a result of Scottish Government policies.

It also shows families will save, for example:

* £180 in 2012-13 as a result of council tax freeze;
* For an individual eligible to use the concessionary travel scheme, an average benefit of around £215 in 2012-13;
* £36 in 2012-13 water charges compared to the England and Wales average;
* Around £230 from scrapping tolls on the Forth Road Bridge;
* Free prescriptions, compared to £7.65 per prescription in England and Wales from April 2012.

Finance Secretary John Swinney said: "This was not a budget for Scotland and is proof of the urgent need for Scotland to have control over financial powers with independence.

“Not for the first time, the Chancellor made a massive miscalculation. His pensions blunder will hit 330,000 older people now in Scotland - rising to half a million - while just 15,000 well off top rate taxpayers earning over £150,000 a year will get a tax cut. Like Gordon Brown’s derisory 75 pence rise for pensioners, this gross insult will stick to the Chancellor for a long, long time.

“The Treasury's own analysis also shows that the UK Government's tax rises and benefit cuts place a bigger relative burden on the lowest earning fifth of households than the average, while the stamp duty measures for homes above £2 million would affect just 10 properties sold last year in Scotland.

“And there was almost nothing to stimulate the economy, with the Office for Budget Responsibility saying the UK’s measures would have ‘a broadly neutral fiscal impact’.

“The UK Government is punishing pensioners, cutting benefits, and restricting access to working tax and child tax credits – in contrast, the Scottish Government is looking after households.

"On freezing the council tax, paying the living wage, maintaining free prescriptions and concessionary travel, and from abolishing tolls and tuition fees to opposing regional pay, we are putting as much money as we can into people’s pockets to give Scots active and healthy lives that contribute to their wellbeing and our economy.

"With the full powers of independence, we could do even more."