Derek Mackay promises budget to protect Scotland from austerity and Brexit
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay prepares to deliver budget without backing of another party in Holyrood
Derek Mackay - David Anderson/Holyrood
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has said he will deliver a budget that will “safeguard” Scotland from the worst impacts of Brexit and continuing austerity from the UK Government.
Mackay will make his draft budget announcement to MSPs this afternoon, although there is as yet no sign he has reached an agreement with another party to vote it through.
The SNP is a minority government and needs the backing of another party to pass its spending plans. In the last two years this has been the Scottish Greens, who have this year made demands around the reform of local taxation.
Speaking ahead of the budget Mackay said: “Despite the UK Government’s promises, this budget will be set against a backdrop of continuing UK austerity which has devastating impacts on the most vulnerable in our communities.
“This is also a budget presented under the shadow of the UK government’s chaotic approach to Brexit which hangs over our economy, our public services and risks making us all poorer in the future.”
With the Scottish Greens making local government taxation a red line and the Liberal Democrats demanding the SNP shelve plans for an independence referendum during this parliament, negotiations appear to have stalled.
Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie said no formal discussions had taken place.
“Scotland’s system of funding our vital local services is broken, and we urgently need the reforms which almost every party agreed to before the last election. Since then the Government has stalled, and this cannot be allowed to go on,” he said.
Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said: “The Liberal Democrats have put forward constructive proposals for investing in mental health services, for a good pay deal for teachers and investment in local government services.
“All we asked was for the SNP to put aside their campaign for independence, to have a short cessation, but they refused.”
The Scottish Conservatives have said they are open to supporting a SNP Budget that reflects tax cuts for higher earners seen in the rest of the UK.
Shadow Finance Secretary Murdo Fraser said: “My message today to Derek MacKay is to back blue, not Green.
“Rule out a second referendum on independence, address the widening gap between tax rates in Scotland and the rest of the UK – and let’s talk.”
Scottish Labour Finance spokesperson James Kelly called for the SNP to be more radical.
“The time for tinkering at the edges is over. We need a real change of direction in this budget. In government, Labour will do things differently, but we have the power to make different choices in Scotland now,” he said.
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