Today the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer has set out the first Spring Statement on the economy and public finances. It’s a statement that failed to change course on the economy – we face yet more damaging cuts to public services and a job-destroying Brexit, outside the Single Market. Here’s the SNP response.
UK Tory Gov continued austerity by choice today #SpringStatement whilst @scotgov budget delivers a fairer Scotland with progressive taxation, new real investment in public services, infrastructure and social entitlements.
— Derek Mackay MSP (@DerekMackaySNP) March 13, 2018
Derek MacKay MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution
This statement has shown, once again, that the UK Government is intent on pursuing austerity by choice. The Chancellor had an opportunity to invest in public services and reverse these trends, but chose not to take it, which means that the Scottish Government will continue to see real terms cuts to its discretionary budget over the next two years.
The forecasts included in the Chancellor’s Spring statement show growth to be lower in each of the next five years relative to 2017. It is clear the shadow of Brexit continues to loom large over the UK economy.
We are just over 12 months away from formally exiting the EU without a clearly agreed path in terms of our on-going access to key EU markets – this remains the biggest uncertainty hampering economic growth and investment and dragging our economy down.
The UK Government have indicated they will allocate £3 billion over 2018-19 and 2019-20 for expenditure on Brexit preparations, but that the Scottish Government will only receive 2.5%, or £37 million, of the funding allocated in 2018-19. No details on 2019-20 funding have been provided.
It is deeply frustrating that money we are receiving is significantly short of a full Barnett share of the funding allocated at the UK level. Scottish Ministers will now carefully consider how these resources should be allocated to meet priority areas of expenditure and whether they are sufficient for the challenge ahead. We will not allow spending on Scottish public services to be diverted to meet the cost of a damaging UK Brexit.
Today we also received no clarity on public sector pay across all workforces the UK – again the Chancellor has missed an opportunity to follow our lead and support public sector workers.
Ian Blackford MP
SNP Westminster Leader
Philip Hammond had an opportunity today to tackle some of the biggest threats facing the economy. Instead, the Chancellor has his head firmly in the sand, as he chose to remain wedded to his government’s disastrous austerity agenda.
Make no mistake that a hard Brexit is going to hit the pockets of families, it will lead to a loss in tax revenue expectations, and is therefore going to affect spending on our public services.
We still have no clarity for people and business over the process of the UK exiting the EU, including the future of EU funding and the wider threat facing the economy.
Aside from Brexit, this UK government has also overseen the most callous approach to benefits and continues to punish working households by failing to scrap the public sector pay cap.
The Scottish budget passed last month illustrates the real divergence in political choices across the UK. In Scotland, the SNP Scottish Government has chosen to stand by its outstanding public sector staff and give them the pay increase they deserve. It’s time the UK government followed suit.
The choices are clear and the opportunities obvious. The Chancellor must wake up to the economic injustices his government has overseen and he must set out urgently how the UK government will protect the economy in the face of Brexit.