10 ways the Tory Budget is failing Scotland after a decade of decline

After successive Tory governments presiding over rising poverty, rising inequality and falling real incomes, Rishi Sunak’s newly unveiled budget has failed to roll back a decade of painful austerity.

This is a budget that fails to change course on the economy, fails to reverse the deeply damaging cuts, and reveals the damaging impact of the Tories’ Brexit obsession.

Here’s all you need to know.

1) Merely a sticking plaster on a decade of austerity

The decade of Tory austerity and the worsening inequality has inflicted the hardest impact on the most vulnerable in our society. This budget is no different – the Tories will continue to entrench people into poverty in Scotland and across the UK, while dishing out tax cuts for the rich.

Recent analysis from the IFS revealed that the lowest-income households have been hit by a £1,200 cut in their income every year, while in households with children, the average loss rises to 20% – a cut of around £4,000 per year.

2) Failing to address low wages

For all the Tories’ talk about “levelling up” the economy, this is a half-baked Budget that doesn’t go far enough for workers and swerves round the issue of wage stagnation.

Boris Johnson’s government still refuses to raise their pretend “living wage” to the Real Living Wage, and refuses to end the age discrimination that penalises under-25s. The true Tory record is one of falling real wages and growing hardship – with the ONS, only last month, revealing a significant rise in income inequality since the 2008 financial crisis.

3) Failing to step up on statutory sick rates

In the face of the growing Coronavirus crisis, the Tory government is failing millions of workers with the current UK rate amounting to poverty pay, nearly three times lower than that of Germany, Austria and Ireland.

Boris Johnson, who was challenged by Ian Blackford to boost sick pay support, did not even know what the rates were and explicitly refused to increase it. Rishi Sunak’s budget doesn’t do anything to address it – simply dodging the issue, languishing at the bottom of the European league table, and leaving sick workers struggling to get by.

4) Still refusing to scrap cruel welfare policies

From the benefits freeze, Universal Credit sanctions, disability assessments, the cruel two-child limit, to the horrific ‘rape clause’, the list of failed and punishing Tory policies goes on and on.

The brutal and ideologically-driven Tory approach to welfare has targeted children and the most disadvantaged – a legacy the Tories have never even had the decency to acknowledge and apologise for.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government is building a social security system based on dignity and respect – with our new child payment scheme lifting over 30,000 children out of poverty.

5) Still short-changing Scotland and holding back money that’s owed

The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) has confirmed that Scotland is still owed its £5.8bn share of Theresa May’s DUP bungs, the £400m shortfall in regional growth deals, and the £125m in VAT owed to Scotland’s police and fire services.

What’s more, this Tory budget fails to reverse the £13.9bn cumulative cut to the Scottish Government resource budget, which is still lower in real terms than it was in 2010/11.

While the Scottish Government is mitigating the cruel Tory welfare policies and sweeping cuts to public services, its resource budget faces savage cuts from the UK government. Scotland is being short-changed under the Tories’ watch, making it ever clearer that Westminster simply isn’t working.

6) Dodging the issue of social care

The Tory election manifesto pledged a solution which would mean workers did not have to pay a ‘dementia tax’, but Rishi Sunak’s budget does not provide any specific extra cash to address the rising crisis in social care.

The UK government should learn the lessons from the progressive policies of the Scottish Government, that deliver free personal care to all those who need it, supply more care at home for people in their local areas, and have been praised by experts worldwide.

Even Jeremy Hunt, former Tory health minister, has admitted that the budget fails to tackle the issue.

7) Assaulting pensioners’ rights and failing to pay up

The devastating Tory legacy on social security has especially hit pensioners – who still receive the lowest state pension in the developed world according to the OECD.

And worse still, this Tory government is still denying pensioners their full pension entitlement, with the plight of women born in the 1950s completely ignored in this year’s budget.

On top of this, the Tories are set to hit 240,000 households in Scotland and 3 million across the UK with their attack on free TV licences for over-75s. It’s high time Boris Johnson’s government stops punishing pensioners and pays up for its broken promises.

8) Refusing to compensate farmers and fishermen for broken Brexit promises

It’s clear what this Tory government thinks of rural Scotland – with their own adviser recently revealing that farming and fishing are “not critically important” and successive Tory Prime Ministers treating Scotland’s fishing communities as “expendable”.

Boris Johnson is about to sell out his promises to Scottish fishing communities in the EU negotiations – putting preferential treatment for City banks ahead of access to our waters – and as he does so, he’s refusing to pick up the bill to compensate farmers and fishermen for lost revenue.

9) The £350 million a week for the NHS figure has been decisively exposed as a sham

Boris Johnson and his Vote Leave cronies famously promised that Brexit would amount to an additional £350m a week for the NHS.

However, buried deep in the pages of Rishi Sunak’s budget is a figure that suggests the amount is actually around £161m a week – and that’s before you take into account the overall hit on the economy from Brexit.

In fact, the UK government’s own Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has revealed that Brexit has cost the British economy £40 billion so far – making each person £1,200 worse off on average. The lies of the Brexiteers are set to unravel further as the difficult EU trade negotiations are only just about to begin.

10) Meanwhile, the economic and social threat of Brexit is on the horizon

The Tories’ highest ambition is to secure a basic trade deal which, compared to EU membership, and could remove £9bn from the Scottish economy and create new red tape for export-focused businesses.

And worse still, with increasing threats to walk away from the negotiations with a no-deal, the Scottish economy could be hit to the tune of £12.7bn – equivalent to £2,300 per person, disproportionately hurting the most vulnerable in our society.

While the Tories are heading down the hard Brexit path of isolationism and de-regulation, Scotland must have the choice of a better future as an equal, independent European country – instead of the broken Brexit Britain being imposed on us.