In Scotland, the Greens and the SNP have criticised UK Chancellor George Osborne for a budget that lacks economic ambition and social justice.
Responding to today's budget by the UK government, Patrick Harvie, Scottish Green MSP and party co-convener, commented: "The Chancellor continues to offer the wrong medicine for our broken economy. His mantra of cutting people's incomes but spending on infrastructure simply won't deliver long-term jobs. Greens believe that we need a recovery made by the many not the few, but unlike Labour we know that means opposing the damaging freeze on public sector pay and the cruel bedroom tax.
"Figures published today by the Forum Against Poverty show many thousands of Scots taking a £2 billion welfare hit by 2015. George Osborne barely mentioned the impact of slashing welfare on households, but instead threw millions at an outdated notion that everyone must aspire to be a home-owner, regardless of the reality of housing crisis across the UK.
"The Chancellor appeared to take pleasure in announcing a dire package of energy choices, as if he needed to prove just how fossil-fuel friendly his policies are. Scotland should turn its back on Osborne's fracking bribes and keep on track with our renewables revolution, and no-one should pretend that a CCS gas project at Peterhead is a good reason for more fossil fuel extraction. The exemption from climate targets for some top polluters, and the freeze on fuel duty combine to make this budget an environmental as well as a social disaster.
"Scotland's budget for public services will be cut yet again on the day when PCS take strike action to defend their members delivering those services, strengthening the argument for Scotland taking control of our own affairs. In response, SNP Ministers should be prepared to set a different course by protecting public sector pay and dropping their obsession with slashing corporation tax ever deeper. It's Scotland that can be the true aspiration nation, with a greener, fairer economy if we make the right choices on energy, welfare and housing," said Mr Harvie.
SNP Westminster Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP said the Chancellor had failed to deliver for Scotland on the key measures needed to support the Scottish economy.
Mr Hosie declared: “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.
“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 the Scottish National Party spokesperson.
The Scottish Labour Party, which opposes self-government for Scotland, is also critical of the budget, but appears to have left it to its parent party in London to issue statements, as there was no up-to-date comment on the SLP website on the evening of the Westminster budget (20 March 2013).
The Scottish Liberal Democrats are tied to the Westminster coalition government and are struggling to persuade people that they are not tied to Conservative austerity and anti-welfare policies, which they sometimes criticise but for which their MPs vote.