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by Louise Wilson
17 November 2022
John Swinney: Autumn statement is ‘austerity budget’

John Swinney: Autumn statement is ‘austerity budget’

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has described the autumn statement as an “austerity budget”.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt set out a series of tax rises and spending measures to the Commons earlier, including freezing the income tax personal allowance and lowering the threshold for the top rate of tax.

Figures sent out by the Treasury said the Scottish Government is in line to receive an extra £1.5bn over two years as a result of increased spending in health and education.

But Swinney – who is currently standing in as the Scottish finance secretary – said he suspected it was actually a real-terms cut for the Scottish Government.

He hinted that this would mean further cuts when he announces the Scottish budget for 2023-24 next month.

He said: “I do think it’s an austerity budget… In the short-term, the effect of inflation is absolutely corrosive. You can see what I’ve had to do this year to deal with inflation. That’ll be what’s underpinning the [Scottish] budget for next year, we’re wrestling with that question all the way through.”

The cabinet secretary also said that even after inflation begins to drop – the OBR expects this to happen sharply over the next year – the “outlook on public expenditure is dismal” beyond that point.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said the budget contained “difficult decisions” but the UK Government was “tackling the root causes of inflation and putting our public finances on a stable footing”.

He added: “The Scottish Government will receive an additional £1.5bn to help support public services in Scotland. We are also putting extra money into two key projects in Scotland.

"Catapult will help grow our offshore energy capability, and a feasibility study to upgrade the A75 will pave the way for much improved connectivity between Scotland, Northern Ireland and England.”

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