The Tories are pressing ahead with their ideological services cuts despite the chancellor’s announcement that he has missed all his targets on debt, deficit, borrowing, trade and exports. His failed austerity project has damaged the UK’s economy, our vital public services and is hitting us all, especially the poorest and most disadvantaged in our communities.
George Osborne has failed utterly, and while sensible heads have seen this coming from the beginning, this Budget will be remembered as the point he lost all economic credibility, even amongst his peers.
The Chancellor may pretend that he doesn’t have a choice when it comes to the economy but he could have listened to the SNP and our progressive, sensible alternative of a modest 0.5% increase to public spending that would grow our economy and help to avoid the worst of these cuts.
I’m pleased the Chancellor has caved to SNP pressure and has revised the level of tax for oil and gas companies but he has only cut the total amount of tax from 50% to 40% while cutting corporation tax for other companies to 17%.
This is a missed opportunity and shows the Chancellor lacks the vision to bring forward a long-term strategy for the North Sea Oil and Gas industry and he has failed once again to introduce measures that would encourage exploration.
The Chancellor has failed yet again to bring forward any proposals on non-fiscal support such as loan guarantees which would help sustain investment in the sector and help companies to protect jobs.
The SNP Scottish Government is committed to doing everything within its power to support the oil and gas industry during these challenging times through the Energy Jobs Taskforce – which includes £12 million in funding to help oil workers retrain in other fields – and an additional £379 million investment in the north east of Scotland.
Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation is nothing more than a distraction from the real issue of cuts to the welfare and disability budget and the SNP are continuing our calls for the cuts to be immediately and completely scrapped. While the deep divisions at the top of the Tory party widen and the mud-slinging continues, disabled people and those on low-incomes are still expected to bear the brunt of the Tories’ obsession with austerity. The UK government was warned that slashing £12 billion from the welfare budget would do real and lasting harm but the Tories are determined to plough on, cutting even more from the disability budget. What this resignation proves beyond doubt is that the Tories’ must abandon their ideological commitment to austerity cuts.