Osborne's manoeuvering fails to impress in Scotland

By staff writers
22 Mar 2012

Responding to the UK Budget statement on 21 March 2012, the Scottish National Party says Chancellor Osborne has failed to deliver for Scotland on the key measures needed to support the Scottish economy.

The SNP is the controlling party in the Scottish Parliament at the moment, and is pushing the case for self-governance and independence from the UK.

Scottish Labour, the Scottish Greens and NGOs have also expressed disappointment at the Westminster government's budgetary stance on a range of issues.

SNP Westminster Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP commented: “The Chancellor has ignored the needs of Scotland in a Budget which shows the UK government has its priorities all wrong, and that Scotland now urgently needs the real economic powers of independence."

He continued: “George Osborne has prioritised a tax cut for the wealthiest, while penalising public sector workers with a regional pay plan and adding to the burden faced by Scottish households and businesses through soaring fuel prices.

“As well as failing the fairness test, the Chancellor has also failed on growth by snubbing Scottish Government demands to support vital shovel ready projects – we urgently need that capital investment to support employment, help small business and promote economic security.

“While the Scottish Government is doing everything that it can to protect household budgets with the economic levers that it has – such as freezing the council tax and protecting free prescriptions – even the positive measures announced by the Chancellor, like the increase in personal tax allowances, will be swallowed up by higher fuel prices and VAT.

“The devil is always in the detail with the Treasury and we need to look very closely at the announcements made by the Chancellor on support for small businesses. While the announcement on the National Loan Guarantee Scheme is welcome, we must have assurances that more small businesses in Scotland will be able to access affordable finance given the issues with Project Merlin where only 4.8 per cent of gross lending went to SMEs in Scotland.

“It is a tribute to the sector and to the Scottish Government that the Treasury have announced plans for Enhanced Capital Allowances to apply at Nigg, Irvine and Dundee, which means that new, low carbon technologies and industries will now bring investment into these areas. And, as a Dundee MP, I am particularly pleased that the Chancellor has listened to our long-standing calls for the introduction of video games tax relief.

“After the uncertainty created by the UK Government’s damaging tax raid on our offshore sector last years, I do welcome the commitment to support oil and gas decommissioning and new field allowances west of Shetland. However, the UK Government should go further to restore the sector’s confidence and introduce a statutory consultation period for future tax reforms

“It is clear that Scotland needs the same financial and economic powers as other nations have, so that we can grow our economy and revenues as the only alternative to a decade or more of Westminster-dictated cuts. We have used the powers we have wisely – we now need the same powers as other countries have in order to sort this mess out,” said Mr Hosie.

[Ekk/3]

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