Chancellor under fire on tax and Green Investment Bank

By staff writers
March 23, 2011

Scottish Greens have said that Chancellor George Osborne's Budget statement is "brimful of the wrong economic medicine."

His announcements prioritise tax cuts for business while the squeeze on the public sector continues, and while households continue to suffer following his earlier regressive hike in VAT, they point out.

The deferral of the Green Investment Bank's borrowing powers until 2015 has been particularly criticised by the Scottish Greens as another missed opportunity to stimulate green investment across the UK economy.

The £500 million of taxpayers' money allocated to reverse the planned 1p increase in fuel duty is an expensive short-term measure that ignores the fact that the era of expensive oil is here to stay, and that this money should have been invested in sustainable public transport, they say.

Patrick Harvie, co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, commented: "George Osborne made a giddy declaration today that Britain is 'open for business' - what this seems to mean is that profits must be hoarded by the rich and losses covered by the taxpayer, while public services are forced out onto the open market."

He continued: "This coalition government is firmly entrenched in Thatcher-era economics, and today brought no sign of respite for a Britain battered by cuts. Corporation tax is to be slashed while the rest of us keep coughing up for the deficit through VAT. Once again, it's a giveaway budget but only for the rich in Osborne's Britain.

"It's also hugely disappointing to see the highly trailed Green Investment Bank on hold until 2015. In the meantime, the taxpayer already owns 'public' banks that should be making a green difference right now, yet one of these, RBS, continues to pour billions into climate-damaging coal projects. Despite the Tory spin about being 'greenest government ever', they remain content to let this dirty business go on.

"The knock-on effects of this Budget, compounding the misery already being felt in Scotland and around the UK as a result of the Tory-Lib Dem cuts agenda, are sure to have a decisive influence on the Scottish election campaign now underway.

"The Scottish Greens will offer the public a credible alternative, using progressive taxation to resist these cuts. Today's latest abysmal lecture in Osbornonomics will win the Tories and Lib Dems few friends north of the border come 5 May 2011," concluded Harvie.

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