Autumn Statement needs strong action from Scot Gov using devolved powers

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, today (23 Nov) responded to the Chancellor's Autumn Statement by urging the Scottish Government to use consequential capital funds to invest in energy efficient homes and high quality childcare, and to commit to progressive tax policies.

Mr Harvie said:

"The Tories' Brexit mess poses huge threats to our economy and public services, and today's Autumn Statement requires strong action from the Scottish Government using the full range of devolved powers. Extra capital funding means Scottish Ministers now have no excuse for not funding the warm homes programme they promised two years ago, or the expansion in high quality childcare capacity."

On low income households, Patrick added: 

"The UK Government remains obsessed with public sector debt, when private debt is a far bigger problem in our economy. With so many people struggling, there is a clear and urgent need for an anti-poverty budget from the Scottish Government, with increases needed in public sector pay, devolved benefits such as Carer's Allowance and top-ups to reserved benefits such as Child Benefit. The reduction in the Universal Credit taper rate is an improvement, but only restores a fraction of what’s already been taken away from low income households. A single parent with one child will be around £170 better off after this reduction – but is still facing a cut of £3,000. Ninety percent of single parents are women, and children in single parent households are already twice as likely to be living in poverty."

On corporation tax:

"The Chancellor's bragging over Corporation Tax cuts comes as many big businesses avoid tax on an industrial scale. The measures he announced to tackle avoidance are marginal compared with this latest rate cut."

On income tax and the minimum wage:

"The increase in the threshold at which higher earners pay the additional rate of income tax is completely a unjustified giveaway to the wealthy. Despite all the talk about people who are 'just about managing', the Chancellor is giving far more benefit to the richest households than to the rest. With power over income tax rates & thresholds, Scotland has an opportunity to take a fairer approach while also increasing revenues to tackle poverty and protect public services.

"We also need to see the increase in the minimum wage applying to everyone, not just over 25s. Young workers are still being exploited, and this will get worse. If there had been any serious attempt by HM Treasury to conduct an Equalities Impact Assessment of this Autumn Statement, decisions could have been made that genuinely ‘builds an economy that works for everyone’."

On oil and gas:

"The Tories' cuts in oil taxes will harm efforts to limit climate change. The Scottish Government must take a different approach and instead invest in day-to-day public transport, low carbon infrastructure and oil and gas decommissioning rather than extraction of fossil fuels we can't afford to burn and which pose a huge risk to our economy."