Osborne urged to change approach

The Finance Secretary has called on Chancellor George Osborne to adopt a new approach in this week's Budget to secure a "sustained economic recovery".

John Swinney has urged the Chancellor to change his approach.
John Swinney has urged the Chancellor to change his approach.

John Swinney urged Mr Osborne not to impose any further cuts on Scotland and called for more capital investment and improved access to finance.

Speaking ahead of the UK Budget on March 19, Mr Swinney highlighted the Scottish Government's rejection of Westminster's approach to the economy and public finances.

He said that an independent Scotland would take a different approach that would boost jobs, support investment, and tackle the long term challenges facing Scotland's economy.

He said: "In his final budget before the referendum the UK Chancellor may be tempted to offer Scotland a series of promises, but no number of budget bribes can compensate for the impact of the austerity agenda or the decades of Westminster mismanagement of our economy.

"The current Westminster system is fundamentally flawed - yet for as long as Scotland remains governed by Westminster our economy and public services will have to face the consequences of budget decisions made by a government Scotland did not elect.

"While we are now seeing promising signs of economic growth, the fact that the UK Chancellor is planning to impose a further £25bn of cuts and austerity on the people of Scotland underlines the failure of the UK Government's approach to the economy and continues to put our recovery at risk."

He said latest government expenditure figures show that Scotland has taken a unique approach in investing in capital spending which he said has paid off with the latest Scottish GDP figures showing the economy is growing 2.1% per cent, faster than the UK.

Mr Swinney said that action is needed to create a positive environment for investment in business research and development and to ensure small business has access to a diverse range of finance, which he said the UK has failed to deliver for Scotland.

The MSP also called for a fair welfare system and urged Mr Osborne to remove the cap on Discretionary Housing Payments.

He said: "Key Scottish industries which the UK Government has been so keen to endorse recently like whisky and the North Sea need support with a fair tax system. With numerous substantial tax changes affecting the North Sea in the last decade the UK Government should abandon plans to reform bareboat chartering which would damage exploration in the North Sea.

"And as Scotland's Future shows, we need an effective industrial strategy, boosting productivity and exports and increasing innovation and participation in the workforce, something that only independence will deliver.

"Until Scotland decides on its future, in his final pre-referendum budget it is essential that the Chancellor and the UK Government adopts a new approach to ensure that we see a sustained economic recovery, and that the benefits of this are widely shared."

A Treasury spokesman said: "The Government's long-term economic plan to build a stronger, more competitive economy is working and delivering jobs for the whole of Britain, including Scotland.

"It is vital that the Government works through its plan so that we can secure a better future for our country."