Autumn Budget statement
1 Dec 2011 01:24 AM
The Chancellor's Autumn Statement is 'too little, too late', Finance Secretary John Swinney said yesterday.
Mr Swinney said:"The Chancellor had to swallow a bitter pill today.
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has demonstrated that the Westminster coalition's Plan A is an abject failure, with a swingeing cut of well over two thirds in the growth forecast for 2012 - and the OBR assess that the UK is currently contracting. Regrettably, the Chancellor's response falls far short of the urgent action that Scotland needs to boost growth.
"The Chancellor has proposed a limited increase in capital budgets, but the Treasury are so far unable to tell us by how much our revenue budget is going to fall. We need a complete picture to judge these announcements, and I am writing to the Chancellor seeking this information urgently.
"The Scottish Government has called for a targeted, expanded programme of some £2 billion for capital infrastructure investments in Scotland to stimulate demand - which has not been delivered.
"The OBR even states that the Chancellor's announcements will 'have limited impact' on their forecast for the economy. Now and into 2012 is the danger point in terms of the UK economy re-entering recession, yet over 70 per cent of the proposed action on capital spending is not due to happen until 2013-15.
"The Chancellor has done nothing to create overall demand stimulus - total spending is the same and he is only borrowing to fund an increasing deficit, due to lower revenues and higher value of benefits.
"In contrast, the Scottish Government is using all the powers presently available to us to stimulate growth now. In the face of a 36 per cent real terms cut to our capital budget, put in place by the previous UK Government, we are using all the levers at our disposal to invest more in capital investment - a key driver of growth. The Scottish Government will support around £9 billion spending over the next three years to deliver new schools, hospitals, houses, roads, water infrastructure, community facilities and improved availability of high speed broadband across Scotland. As a result of our £2.5 billion Non-Profit Distributing capital programme and switching of resources from revenue to capital, infrastructure investment in Scotland will now rise year-on-year throughout the spending period.
"While the Scottish labour market continues to outperform the UK as a whole - with lower unemployment, higher employment, and lower economic inactivity rates - we are taking every step we can to help people into work, particularly young people.
"We are funding a record 25,000 Modern Apprenticeship places this year and in each year of this parliament, and our 'Opportunities for All' programme - guaranteeing a training or learning place for all 16-19 year-olds - gives our young people the life chances and opportunities they deserve.
"Scotland is the most competitive environment for business in the UK and the Scottish Government and our enterprise agencies have secured major new investment in recent months from international companies such as Avaloq, Dell, Amazon, FMC Technologies and Doosan Power Systems.
"Global economic confidence has weakened in recent months and household budgets are being squeezed by rising fuel and food prices. The Scottish Government is taking action to help boost economic security and consumer confidence by freezing the council tax, abolishing prescription charges and protecting concessionary travel. Cancelling January's planned rise in fuel duty is welcome, although we also need a fairer fuel duty regime and a fuel duty regulator to make a lasting difference.
"We also welcome the Treasury's offer of additional resources to improve Scotland's sleeper services, and we look forward to working with UK Ministers to discuss the detail of delivering this important objective."