Thursday, 24 June 2010



Cabinet Secretary for Finance John Swinney will tonight present the SNP’s budget response.

The response which will be broadcast across BBC Scotland and STV sets out the SNP’s reaction to the Conservative and Lib Dem announcement of spending cuts and tax rises to manage Labour’s debts and the unprecedented challenge Scotland now faces to secure growth, recovery and strong public services.

In the response Mr Swinney will say:

"On Tuesday the new UK Government announced its Budget. This told us what we already knew – that we are facing the most challenging financial period for decades created by the last Labour government.

"Labour also cut Scotland’s budget by £500 million before the last election.

"Something needs to be done to sort Labour’s mess whilst protecting vital services. But there is a very real risk that by accelerating deep spending cuts the new UK Government is making matters even worse. Labour promised spending cuts that would be deeper and tougher than Margaret Thatcher's but the new government has gone much further.

"The recovery is still fragile and the Scottish Government’s key priority is to protect that recovery. Going too far and too fast could jeopardise that.

"This Budget has taken money out of the economy, cash that could have been used to support jobs and growth.

"Rushing into more cuts, on top of those already made by Labour, could choke off the recovery before it’s had a chance to flourish.

"The UK’s financial mess has been clear for some time.  That’s why in February the Scottish Government established the Independent Budget Review in Scotland.

"That expert Review has been taking evidence from people and key organisations the length and breadth of the country and will provide vital input to us on the way ahead.

"The SNP Government has already done much to help household budgets in tough times – measures like the year on year council tax freeze and phasing out prescription charges.

"We've also taken the lead in delivering efficient Government while protecting services. Last year we beat our efficiencies target by 300 million pounds. A lot of Westminster politicians have been promising to deliver on efficiencies but we have already done it.

"Meanwhile, the Westminster Government is cutting in the wrong places, such as disability living allowance and child benefit. And it's a disgrace that we are about to shell out £100 billion on new weapons of mass destruction. Not only is that morally wrong but it would provide enough money to pay for our health services for almost a decade. Or we could save £100 million a year by abolishing the House of Lords or £10 million paying for the Scotland Office.

"Getting these decisions right is important. That is why we want to engage in an open conversation with people over how we protect the services that are most important to us. To make sure that every public pound is spent wisely and effectively.

"It's important that together we agree the type of
Scotland we want. The Westminster Government shouldn’t be allowed to get us into this kind of mess again.  Scotland shouldn’t be allowed to become a victim of a crisis over which we have no control.

"As a nation we shouldn’t lose sight of what we have achieved and can achieve. Not only did Scotland go into this recession in a much better condition than the rest of the UK but the recession was shorter and we have also emerged in better shape.

"Yesterday the latest statistics on Government Expenditure and Revenue in Scotland showed that for the fourth year in a row Scotland has been in surplus. In fact last year Scotland was in surplus by well over a billion pounds compared to a UK deficit of almost £50 billion.

"That shows that we would have been better off taking responsibility for our own decisions. And that is why the Scottish Government wants to see us take more control over our own affairs. Introducing financial responsibility would deliver that.

"It would allow us to take our own decisions on tax - and critically it would allow us to encourage growth, the very thing that Westminster is in danger of suffocating. We saw that with the Budget decision to stop tax breaks for the computer games industry, a great Scottish success story. That doesn’t mean that we won’t face tough decisions – just that we will have more control over our own affairs and can stop this situation from happening again.

"Scotland has massive resources and fantastic public services. We are committed to Scotland’s public services and delivering the best deal for each and every pound of spending.

"We face an unprecedented challenge. All of us must play a role and work together in the best interests of our country. You can be assured that your Scottish government will work with you to protect the values of our society, our services and our economy - the things that matter to us all."

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