After a decade of Tory cuts and austerity, alongside a calamitous Brexit process that is hurting working families, Philip Hammond must finally take action. The Chancellor must use this budget to grow the economy, support public services and protect people on low incomes – not simply deliver cuts to public services, whilst protecting the super-rich.
If the Conservatives are serious about building a better future for people, here are just a few things they need to do this budget.
Austerity has been a blight on public services in Scotland and will see Scotland’s budget cut by £2.6 billion by 2020. Theresa May’s pledge to end austerity must be carried out and any attempts to deflect will be unacceptable.
The SNP has long opposed to the UK Government’s austerity agenda which disproportionately hurts the poorest and most vulnerable in society.
Philip Hammond must end the UK government’s austerity agenda and provide a meaningful uplift in funding for public services.
The Scottish Government have proposed alternative UK fiscal plans which would provide valuable additional resources for Scotland’s public finances to support key commitments and public services while keeping the public finances on a sustainable path.
Halt a No-Deal or Blindfold Brexit
Brexit is by far the biggest threat to Scotland’s economy and long-term prosperity. We know from the UK Government’s own analysis that plans for a hard Brexit would be disastrous – lowering Scottish GDP by up to nine per cent, putting 80,000 jobs at risk and costing us the equivalent of £12.7 billion a year or £2,300 for every person in the country.
Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, and we firmly believe that Scotland’s public finances should not bear the costs of Brexit.
With the UK set to leave the EU in March, the only credible and sensible plan to minimise the damage of Brexit is the SNP Scottish Government’s compromise plan to keep the UK in the single market and customs union.
We remain deeply concerned about the impact UK welfare reforms are having on the people of Scotland. By 2020/21, social security spending in Scotland is expected to have reduced by £3.7 billion as a result of UK Government welfare cuts since 2010.
We are calling on the UK Government to immediately lift the four year benefit freeze – which has resulted in the biggest spending reduction in welfare spending in Scotland – and to abolish the two child cap on tax credits and the associated Rape Clause.
We have repeatedly called on the UK Government to stop ignoring the overwhelming evidence that Universal Credit is causing unnecessary hardship to thousands of families across the country. In 2018/19, working Universal Credit claimants in Scotland will lose £164 million, and approximately £245 million by the year 2021.
In order to stop things getting any worse, we have asked the UK Government to halt the roll out until the fixes the system urgently needs can be implemented.
Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service VAT
After over 140 SNP calls over five years for an end to unfair VAT charges for our police and fire services, despite emergency services in England having tax relief, the Chancellor finally relented last year. The decision to end this injustice was long-overdue but it doesn’t go far enough.
We will keep fighting for the rebate of the £175 million paid charged up to March 2018 and allow that money to be invested in Scotland’s emergency services.
Abandon the Charge on EU Citizens Applying for Residency
We want to ensure that EU citizens can continue to live and work in Scotland, benefiting our economy, our public services and communities.
The Scottish Government have made repeated calls on the UK Government not to impose fees on EU citizens applying for settled status.
We believe it is wrong that EU citizens will be financially burdened by paying a fee to obtain a status which they already enjoy by right and we strongly urge the UK Government to scrap the fees for settled status altogether.