On Wednesday I will set out the Scottish Government’s budget.
I will be doing so against the backdrop of yet more cuts to Scotland’s budget by the Tory government. George Osborne is making these cuts out of choice, not necessity. And taken together with the cuts imposed since 2010, he plans to remove one in every eight pounds Scotland has to spend.
What’s more, it’s not just for one year. The Chancellor will impose real terms cuts on Scotland every year from now until 2020.
The SNP Government has consistently shown how a different approach could be taken. We’ve sent detailed recommendations to the UK Government which demonstrate that the deficit could have been reduced while still investing in public services. All done without the scale of cuts chosen by the Chancellor.
But that advice has not been taken and now Scotland is dealing with the reality of the Chancellor’s decision, and the tough choices it brings.
Be assured that your SNP Government will defend and protect the vital public services that the people of Scotland depend on: our schools, hospitals and police. We will not sacrifice them to the Chancellor’s austerity obsession.
We’ve shown throughout our eight years in government that we can deliver on that promise with more police on the streets, crime levels at a 41 year low, tuition-free university education and a record health budget.
We will continue to prioritise these areas in this week’s budget, which will have tackling inequality at its heart.