Westminster must inflation proof Scotland’s budget

The Scottish Greens have called for the UK Government to inflation-proof the Scottish budget to ensure that communities do not pay the price for the Tories’ disastrous mismanagement of the economy and the highest inflation rate of any G7 nation.

The call comes as the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt prepares to announce a budget that is widely expected to include large cuts to public spending, beyond what was already planned in the multi-year spending review published under Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak.

The UK Government had already cut this year’s Scottish budget by 5.2% compared to last year, but Inflation has wiped a further £1.7billion off its value since the start of the year, with the Tories refusing to compensate for this with further cash.

Scottish Greens finance spokesperson, Ross Greer MSP, said: 

“Rishi Sunak and his predecessors have created the worst cost crisis for decades. They have allowed prices to soar, bills to skyrocket and inflation to surge beyond what any other G7 nation is seeing. This week’s budget will pile even more misery on millions of people.

“These Tory-inflicted calamities are hammering households and businesses. They have made things even harder for all devolved governments and public services, which are largely hostage to the terrible decisions made in Westminster.

“With Greens in government here in Scotland, we are prioritising support for those who need it most to ensure that they don’t pay the price for Tory cruelty and economic incompetence. 

“Despite brutal real-terms cuts from Downing Street, we have delivered free bus travel for under 22s, increased the Scottish Child Payment to £25 per week for every eligible child and ensured public contracts are only given to companies paying at least the Real Living Wage. These are positive and progressive changes, but, without a serious change in direction from Westminster, it will be impossible to protect Scottish communities from the austerity that Hunt and Sunak seem determined to unleash.

“We need an inflation-proofed and Tory-proofed budget. At the very least, Westminster must increase Scotland’s budget in line with inflation, particularly given that it is their economic incompetence which has made this such a problem in the UK. Inflation-proofing wouldn’t actually allow us to do any more than we already are, it would simply avoid the significant cuts which are otherwise sadly inevitable. 

“To increase support for those who really need it right now, or to at least allow the Scottish Government to do so, Westminster needs to increase spending in real terms. It can fund this by removing the ludicrous loopholes which allow oil & gas companies to avoid most of the windfall tax on their massive profits and by introducing a wealth tax on the ultra-rich.

“The position that Scotland is now in underlines the huge limitations of devolution. Our own tax powers are so limited that we are treated more like a toddler than a partner in the union. We need extra powers even if we are to make basic changes like vary tax rates in-year, borrow the funds we need or maintain an adequate reserve.

“The UK government has made clear that it has no interest in tackling poverty or inequality, or even in devolving the financial levers that are needed for the Scottish Government to do so itself. 

"With yet another Tory budget that Scotland did not vote for, it is clearer than ever that independence is our only realistic route to securing the powers we need to operate like a normal country.”