Chancellor Slammed For Tax Credit U-Turn

25 November 2015, 15:28 | Updated: 25 November 2015, 15:31

George Osborne is making the "same mistakes all over again'' with a "humiliating'' tax credit U-turn failing to hide his austerity agenda, the SNP has warned.

Stewart Hosie told MPs nothing can "camouflage the failure of the past five years'', as he claimed working people are suffering most under the Conservative UK Government.

He added that public spending will shrink to levels last seen in Britain during the 1930s and 1940s under the Chancellor's plans.

Replying to Mr Osborne's Spending Review and Autumn Statement, the SNP's economic spokesman said: "I was intrigued that the Tory backbenches cheered the humiliating U-turn on tax credits. It seems like barely three or four weeks ago they were cheering on and voting for the implementation of the tax credits. Times move on and things change.

"The ideology of the Chancellor has not changed.

"He is, in essence, still intending to cut more than £40 billion a year than he needs to to run a current account budget in balance by the end of this Parliament.

"And notwithstanding the humiliating U-turn on tax credits, this is a Government who added £37 billion of cuts and tax rises in the summer Budget to the £121 billion of fiscal or discretionary consolidation in the last Parliament.

"`There's £18 billion announced in the blue book, or the green book, today and the Chancellor is very clear the £12 billion of welfare cuts remain on the table.

"Even after today, the public are facing a decade of austerity and these are political choices.

"They ignore the fiscally responsible course of action, which with a very modest increase in public expenditure would have ensured no-one was left behind.

"This Government is not one for working people - nothing said can camouflage the failure of the past five years and the Chancellor's statement merely confirms they're making the same mistakes all over again.''

Mr Hosie asked how a 17% cut to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills budget would support firms seeking to increase productivity.

He pressed the Chancellor to explain how closing 137 HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) offices will do anything but ``weaken'' efforts to collect tax due.

And Mr Hosie labelled Mr Osborne's planning on infrastructure spending a "shambles'' and warned Scotland will suffer further "real terms cuts'' on day-to-day spending over the forthcoming years.

He also hit out Mr Osborne's "Bullingdon sneering'' about oil prices.

In reply, Mr Osborne insisted his plans offer "economic and national security'' for Scots as he challenged the SNP to explain how it will spend the cash.

He told Mr Hosie: "It funds a £1.9 billion increase in their capital budget, the block grant goes up by £1 billion.

"The capital boost is a 14% capital boost from the United Kingdom Government.

"So instead of complaining about, you might have welcomed it on behalf of the Scottish Government and set out some of the plans you might have for how to spend it.

"Because I suspect we'll hear a lot from the Scottish nationalists in this Parliament about process and constitutional issues and all that.

"What they won't tell us actually what they're going to do to improve the lives of people in Scotland.

"And if you look at the record of the Scottish Government - he talks about productivity but they have cut 140,000 further education college places in Scotland.

"They've used the money they've taken from the university sector for free prescriptions for millionaires, as if that's a good use of Scottish taxpayers' money.''

Mr Osborne also noted health spending is rising at a slower rate in Scotland compared to England.

He added there is a "huge commitment'' to the defence industry in Scotland and the UK Government is ready to agree with the Scottish Government how new devolved financial powers will work "tomorrow, next week, whenever''.