Autumn statement a ‘missed opportunity to end austerity’.
Commenting on the first Autumn Statement in the wake of the EU referendum, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the Chancellor’s plans laid bare the real cost of leaving Europe. The statement also failed to end damaging austerity, does not go far enough to get the economy on track and provide no additional funding for our public services.
Mr Mackay said:
“The truth about Brexit – and the UK’s financial and economic future – was laid bare by the Chancellor today. The real cost of Brexit has now been revealed – and it is a cost which will be paid through lower growth, lower tax revenues, higher borrowing, higher debt and higher inflation. That is the future the Autumn Statement revealed the UK faces as a result of leaving the European Union.
“Above all, this was a massive missed opportunity to end austerity. The Chancellor has failed to ease the punitive cuts that are hitting so many Scottish families. Instead he has continued the damaging austerity that is slashing the budget for public services, hammering family finances and failing to revive the economy.
“Under these plans, Scotland will see a real terms cut to the day-to-day budget that pays for public services. By 2019/20 it is expected to be almost 9% lower over the decade, reducing the scope we have to mitigate against Westminster austerity and invest in growing our economy.
“Even on the much heralded investment in infrastructure, all we have seen is the Chancellor moderating cuts already imposed on Scotland. As a result, Scotland’s capital budget will still be around 8% lower in real terms across this decade.
“Most shocking, perhaps, is the Chancellor’s failure to commit a single extra penny for the NHS today. This blatant disregard of our public services is deeply worrying. I am also concerned by the lack of commitment to the single market which would have provided a level of certainty in light of the weak economic outlook created by Brexit. The Chancellor’s forecast reflects the impact of EU exit with reduced growth forecast and higher borrowing of over £100 billion required over the forecast period.
“Today’s Autumn Statement is effectively tinkering around the edges and while I welcome the focus on capital expenditure, which I have been calling for, there is still not enough to help hard pressed families.
“It is deeply disappointing that the Chancellor has chosen not implemented the strong package of support needed for the North Sea, and affected communities, which continues to be impacted by low oil prices.
“I will publish the Scottish Draft Budget next month that will support our economy, tackle inequality and provide high quality public services for all – underlining the very different approaches our two governments take.”
The Scottish Government has set out key commitments in its Programme for Government around the NHS, early years, attainment, policing and support for business - aimed at supporting the economy, tackling inequality and providing high quality public services. http://www.gov.scot/programme2016
The Scottish Draft Budget 2017-18 will be published on 15th December.