Anyone waiting for last week’s budget with bated breath or in expectation of good news will have been sadly disappointed.
The budget failed once again to address the real needs of the people of Scotland. We face the same cuts post budget as we did pre budget. In that context it is astonishing that Labours Shadow Chancellor has promised not to reverse any aspect of this budget if Labour came to power after the General Election in May. What exactly does Labour stand for anymore?
George Osborne could have delivered a budget focused on delivering economic growth by tackling inequality. He has not – he has decided to continue with his utterly failed cuts agenda.
It is Osborne’s Tory led coalition that have made hard working families and the poorest pay the hardest for this austerity. Reaction to the budget from the Child Poverty Action Group was damning and the Director John Dickie said: “The chancellor made claim to a truly national recovery but this is a see no poverty, hear no poverty budget which continues to leave children in Scotland and across the UK behind.”
Under Osborne’s plans there will be additional cuts to welfare, tax credits and public sector pensions, with overall cuts set to be far larger than anything we have seen over the past five years. The Scottish Government has outlined a sustainable credible alternative to austerity – which allows for a more responsible reduction in the deficit – whilst providing real terms growth in public spending.
On Scottish Government figures, that plan would deliver up to £180 billion more which we can invest in protecting public services and, even on the Treasury’s own figures the deficit would still fall every year from 2016-17 to 2019-20.
Between 2009/10 and 2014/15, Scotland’s budget has fallen by around 11% in real terms, within this capital expenditure has fallen by around 25%.
The UK government has already cut Scotland’s budget by a staggering £3.5 billion in real terms since 2009/10. Scotland’s share of further UK public spending cuts - over the five years to 2019-20 - will amount to billions more.
The Chancellor has failed. He has missed all his targets on the deficit and debt – and he is promising- according to the independent IFS think tank ‘colossal cuts‘ -in the years to come . This Chancellor and this budget have failed Scotland.
Following on from a pre-inquiry meeting in the Carrick Centre this week the Public Local Inquiry on the plans for a Maybole Bypass is likely to be held in Maybole starting on 25 May 2015.
The inquiry is expected to last up to 4 days allowing objectors to make their case. It is understood that objections are mainly related to the line of the bypass, junctions and the land take from local farms rather than to the principle of the bypass itself which we know has overwhelming local support.
It is also understood that Ministers have requested a report from the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) by mid- September. It is to be hoped that matters can then proceed without further delay.
I had the pleasure of welcoming the South Carrick Women for Independence group to the Scottish Parliament this week where they sat in on First Ministers Questions and toured the Parliamentary complex.
The group thoroughly enjoyed the experience saying “Our Parliament houses people who are working for Scotland and it was good to see them in the chamber at FMQT. A wonderful day was had by all and we would thoroughly recommend a day out at our Parliament.”