Tory austerity measures are of choice, not necessity

The dramatic u-turn on tax credits by George Osborne in the Spending Review was a welcome surprise.

It was a victory for the 250,000 families in Scotland who would have been hit by the cuts.

However, some of the tax credit changes that the Chancellor announced in earlier this year will still go ahead at a future date. For example, limiting payments to two children and the removal of the Family Element of Tax Credits will still take place from April 2017. 

And we still face a real terms cut of £1.5 billion in the budgets that pay for day to day public services in Scotland.

What makes all this so much worse is that yesterday’s announcements of more cuts from the Chancellor are not necessary.

We have published clear plans to cut debt, have the deficit falling and still invest in public services.

These therefore are cuts of choice not necessity.

They are damaging, needless and will hit the poorest hardest.

For our part, we will continue to do everything within our power to protect the most vulnerable from the UK Government’s austerity measures.  We know that the Chancellor remains committed to £12bn of welfare cuts, and we will be looking closely at the cuts to other parts of welfare announced in the Spending Review.

We want to use our powers and resources to lift people out of poverty, not just continually mitigate as best we can.

That will be our focus as we draw up spending plans ahead of the Scottish Budget next month. We will set out a progressive and inclusive budget, with tackling inequality at its heart.

The additional responsibilities we will get through the Scotland Bill will mean future Scottish Governments will be able to take a distinct and innovative approach, designing policies and programmes that align with our vision of a stronger, wealthier and fairer society.