UK budget promises must be backed up by action
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has called for a 'meaningful uplift' in public services funding.
The UK Government must deliver on its pledge to end austerity in its budget, according to Finance Secretary Derek Mackay.
Speaking ahead of the UK Government's budget, Mr Mackay has called for a 'meaningful uplift' in public services funding, as well as expressing concerns about the direction of Brexit negotiations and the roll-out of Universal Credit.
Mr Mackay also repeated calls for a refund on VAT charges imposed on Scottish emergency services and for the UK Government not to impose fees on EU citizens applying for settled status.
Mr Mackay said:
"The Prime Minister recently announced she would bring an end to austerity and I want to see this delivered within the UK Government's budget. This statement must be backed up by concrete actions to provide a meaningful uplift in funding for public services, in addition to the funding increases announced for the NHS being delivered as a true net benefit and not offset by other cuts to the Scottish budget.
"In a letter to the Chancellor this month, I asked for the roll-out of Universal Credit to be postponed until the flaws are fixed - a position supported by the Public Accounts Committee this week. Yet as we're promised an end to austerity, the UK Government continues to press ahead with this damaging policy.
"This year, working Universal Credit claimants in Scotland will lose £164 million, and around £245 million by 2021. We have repeatedly called for a halt to the roll-out until it can be proved not to cause further hardship.
"Ending the VAT obligation on police and fire services last year was welcome, but we're a year on and the UK Government has still not paid back £175 million it took before scrapping the unfair charges.
"I urge the Chancellor to ensure he produces a budget that ends austerity, boosts the economy and properly invests in public services in Scotland.
"This budget also comes as the prospect of a no-deal Brexit looms ever larger - something which poses the biggest threat to the UK economy and public finances. That is why the UK Government should commit to continued membership of the single market and customs union, if staying in the EU is not possible, which is around eight times larger than the UK market alone."
Derek Mackay's full letter to Philip Hammond is available here.