SNP MSP blames Westminster for slashing Scottish budget


Kenneth Gibson claimed Holyrood’s core funding had been slashed by 5.2 per cent in real terms and could be eroded further by soaring inflation

An SNP MSP has blamed Westminster for slashing the Scottish Government budget amid fears thousands of public sector jobs could be lost.

Kenneth Gibson, convener of the Scottish Parliament finance committee, claimed Holyrood’s core funding had been slashed by 5.2 per cent in real terms and could be eroded further by soaring inflation.

It comes as finance secretary Kate Forbes last week unveiled a spending review which saw funding for local authorities and other sectors frozen for the next four years.

The SNP minister warned the number of people employed by the public sector in Scotland could not continue to rise indefinitely.

Linda Sommerville, of the Scottish Trade Unions Congress, said the spending review could make as many as 30,000 jobs ‘unsustainable’ if carried out.

Gibson said today the Scottish Government was restricted financially as it lacked ‘the borrowing powers of other independent countries’.

But Labour accused the SNP of a ‘blatant attempt to distract’ from its own failures.

Gibson said: Scotland’s finances have yet again been subject to brutal cuts to its budget by Westminster – with core funding slashed by 5.2 per cent in real terms by the Tories.

In 2014, the people of Scotland were told that they would benefit from the ‘broad shoulders’ of the UK, but instead Westminster control has meant cuts, not cash for households and public services across the country, he said.

The Scottish Government must work within its fixed budget because we do not have the borrowing powers of other independent countries – so Tory cuts decided in London have a direct impact on public services here in Scotland, he said.

Despite cutting Scotland’s budget, 90 per cent of the revenue for the Chancellor’s windfall tax will come from profits made in Scotland, he said. That means – not for the first time – Scotland’s resources are bankrolling the rest of the UK and demonstrating how much stronger a position we would be in as an independent country.

He said: Just this week a Glasgow University study found that people in Scotland are dying younger because of Tory austerity – it laid bare the direct impact of Westminster cuts on the lives of people in Scotland.

Daniel Johnson, Scottish Labour’s finance spokesman, said: The SNP ought to be ashamed of this blatant attempt to distract from their own failure.

We are facing brutal cuts because their disastrous economic mismanagement has driven down wages, and the reality is SNP’s own plans for independence would deliver austerity on steroids, he said. The way to end the damage inflicted by this out-of-touch Tory government isn’t to tear our country apart – it’s to boot them out of office by voting Labour in the next general election.

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