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Scottish cuts revealed

November 17, 2010

When outlining his draft budget, Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney announced today that he was facing more than £1bn of cuts imposed on him by the UK Government.

In fact, Mr Swinney had four weeks to put this budget together, during which time his wife, who clearly realises that timing is everything, also gave birth.

Despite this, the Scottish government decided against swingeing cuts to the public sector.

As a result, housing, education and tourism spending will be cut but business rates for large retailers will also rise.

All public sector workers earning above £21,000 a year will also face a pay freeze. Those who earn below that will have a minimum annual increase of £250.

Mr Swinney claimed today that public sector pay amounts to more than 50% of his budget.

He also offered Scottish councils a cut of only 2.6% if they agreed to deliver SNP priorities, particularly the council tax freeze.

However, by putting forward a one-year budget rather than a three-year one, Mr Swinney has been criticised for putting the interest of his party over that of the country, particularly by Scottish Labour finance spokesman Andy Kerr.

“It is outrageous that our local authorities, health service, our universities, further education colleges, police and fire services are being denied the ability to plan effectively,” said Mr Kerr.

The Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Lib Dems also agree that the budget should be more long-term, so there is no guarantee that the minority government will be able to pass the budget as it stands (though there’s a history of this happening in Scotland).

The Scottish Retail Consortium, for its part, has accused the Scottish executive of “jeopardising future development, growth and jobs in the retail sector” by raising business rates.

Damian Fantato

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