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Devolved nations urge UK Government to end austerity and uncertainty.
Finance Ministers from the devolved governments today called on the UK Chancellor to end austerity, to protect devolved spending and provide much needed clarity on the UK Government’s intentions to ‘reset’ UK fiscal policy.
Following a ministerial trilateral meeting in Belfast with Máirtín Ó Muilleoir from the Northern Ireland Executive and Mark Drakeford from the Welsh Government, Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay underlined the need for the UK Government to support investment in the economy and public services in the face of the Brexit vote.
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said:
“There is strong consensus between the devolved governments that this lack of clarity from the UK Government is damaging our ability to plan investment in our economy - protect jobs, support businesses, and maintain high quality public services.
“We are taking action by establishing a £500 million Scottish Growth Fund, which will help companies access capital through guarantees and loans, and have already made available £100 million through a capital stimulus package to keep the economy moving and protect jobs.
“These are substantial measures, demanded by exceptional circumstances. They demonstrate our willingness to act within the powers we have.
“At this time of economic uncertainty it’s more important than ever that our budgets are protected.
“The Chancellor’s unwillingness to clarify his intentions on resetting fiscal policy as part of the autumn statement delayed our budget timetable and undermines our ability to navigate the economic uncertainty which has been created following the Brexit vote. Despite the turbulence caused by the UK Government we are standing up for Scotland.
“This government has consistently called on Chancellors past and present to end austerity and invest in our economy and public services – funded through borrowing rather than cuts –an approach that seeks to tackle the inequalities in our society rather than exacerbate them.”
Mr Mackay also wrote today to the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee providing a range of material to support their approach to budget scrutiny ahead of the Chancellor’s autumn statement.
“As a result of the UK Government’s approach we are seeing an increased level of uncertainty for Scotland’s public finances. However I am clear that Parliamentary scrutiny of the budget process is absolutely critical and that is why today I have provided a range of material to assist the committee in its work.
“While elements of this uncertainty are structural, in the next few years the level of uncertainty is magnified as a result of the impact of the UK government’s determination to pursue a hard Brexit and the lack of clarity about the Chancellor’s plans to reset UK fiscal policy.
“It’s vital that we work hand-in-hand with Parliament making the strongest possible representations to the UK Government about the economic challenges we face and crucially how we best respond to those in Scotland’s interests.”
Both the Scotland Act 2012 and 2016 introduce significant new complexities into the Scottish Budget process and gives the UK Government’s Autumn Statement greater prominence in determining the total budget available to the Scottish Government.
The Northern Ireland Executive have announced that they are delaying their budget until after the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on November 23.
The Scottish Government’s intention is to publish the Draft Budget 2017-18 on December 15.
The full document can be read at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Government/Finance/18127/Documents/Documents