The UK Chancellor’s fiscal statement and package of announcements targets the most wealthy, shifting further pressure onto the shoulders of those on the lowest incomes, Scottish Deputy First Minister John Swinney has said.
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Reacting to the statement, Swinney expressed his disappointment that while many households across Scotland are already struggling to pay their bills and heat their homes, the measures offer tax cuts for corporations and bankers.
The Deputy First Minister said: “The Chancellor’s statement today will provide cold comfort to the millions of people across Scotland who have been looking for the UK Government to use its reserved powers to provide support for those that need it most. Instead we get tax cuts for the rich and little for those who need it most.
“We estimate that the increase in the price cap to £2,500 will force an estimated 150,000 more Scottish households into extreme fuel poverty. Instead of offering these people support, the Chancellor is threatening to cut their family budgets further, with a new regime of benefit sanctions.
“On Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and on Scottish income tax, the Scottish Government will set out its plans as part of the normal budget process. We will discuss the proposed investment zones with the UK Government but we are clear they have to be the right fit for Scotland.
“Because of inflation, the Scottish Government’s budget is worth £1.7 billion less than it was when we set it in December, yet the Chancellor has refused to provide a single additional penny for public services or increase public sector pay.
“We are doing everything within our power to support people, public services and the economy, but these efforts are under threat by a reckless UK Government beginning a new, and dangerous race to the bottom. With a fixed Budget and no scope to borrow for short term challenges, Scotland is at the mercy of UK decisions. This reinforces the urgent need for independence.” ■