The UK budget: the SNP’s priorities

The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer is due to set out his budget plans on Wednesday 22 November 2017.
In the face of the uncertainty caused by Brexit, he must take action to grow the economy, support public services and protect people on low incomes.
Here are the Scottish Government’s priorities for the UK budget:

1. An end to austerity cuts

After seven years of austerity, inequality is rising and more people are being forced to rely on foodbanks than ever before. The Tory government should reverse their plans for an additional £3.5 billion in cuts across the UK.
And fair funding should be delivered for Scotland as a result of the Tories £1 billion deal with the DUP.

2. End the 1 per cent public sector pay cap

The SNP Scottish Government has confirmed that it will lift the 1 per cent public sector pay cap in Scotland – the UK government should follow our lead and do so across the UK.

3. Support Scotland’s economy

The Scottish Government has set out ambitious plans to support manufacturing in Scotland by establishing a National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland (NMIS). The UK government should match this ambition by investing at least £40 million in the NMIS.
Priority should also be giving to supporting the development of our renewables sector, and maximising economic recovery and supporting the workforce in the oil and gas sector.
To ensure that the benefit of economic growth is shared by all parts of Scotland, progress should continue on city region deals for Stirling and the Tay Cities, with a new coordinated approach to other parts of Scotland too.

4. Halt the roll-out of Universal Credit and reverse social security cuts

The roll-out of Universal Credit has resulted in rising rent arrears and household debt, with families left to rely on foodbanks. The roll-out should be halted until fundamental flaws have been fixed, particularly the six-week payment delay.
The UK government should also reverse Tax Credit cuts, end the inhumane Rape Clause, reconsider cuts to Employment Support Allowance and unfreeze private rented sector housing support rates.

5. Reverse the £600 million railway robbery

The Tory Treasury has proposed a funding settlement for Scotland’s railway infrastructure that is £600 million short of what the industry has estimated is required to keep pace with rail use. The Chancellor must rip up this plan and ensure a fair deal for Scotland’s railways.

6. Refund VAT paid by police and fire services

Scotland’s police and fire services are the only emergency services in the UK liable for VAT – the Chancellor should end this injustice and allow them to reimburse the £140 million already paid.

7. Fair funding for our farmers

Without Scotland’s historically low average farm payments, the UK would not have been eligible for additional EU ‘convergence uplift’ funding. Yet the UK government has refused to pass on additional funding it has received to Scottish farmers. As a result, farmers in Scotland have been short-changed to the tune of around £190 million.

8. End the uncertainty over post-Brexit funding

The UK government has still not provided detail on the guarantees it has given for EU funding – and no details whatsoever on the programmes that will replace these after Brexit.
Further detail should be provided and the Scottish Government should be fully engaged in decisions on post-Brexit funding.