UK Government Urged To End 'Failed' Austerity Programme

26 October 2017, 07:17

Savings Piggy Bank

The Scottish and Welsh Finance Secretaries have called on the UK Government to "abandon its flawed and unnecessary austerity programme" ahead of a meeting of devolved administrations.

Both Derek Mackay and Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford said public services are under threat with planned UK Treasury cuts in 2019-20.

They are to meet with the Treasury ministers on Thursday and want fresh economic investment.

Scotland's Finance Secretary Mr Mackay said: "We have repeatedly called for the UK Government to end austerity, invest in public services and reverse the cuts that are damaging our economy and hurting some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

"The UK Government will cut £2.9 billion or 9.2% from our discretionary Scottish budget in the 10 years to 2019-20. And that is before taking account of the impact of the UK Government's further planned efficiency savings of £3.5 billion in 2019-20 - which could cut another £350 million from the Scottish budget.

"While we have done what we can to mitigate the worst effects of UK Government austerity, the continued and sustained real terms reductions in our budget makes this increasingly difficult.

"The UK Government needs to abandon their obsession with austerity. The policy has failed and it is time to stimulate the economy by investing in this country's future."

Welsh Government Finance Secretary Mr Drakeford said: "Our draft Budget was set against the backdrop of the longest period of sustained austerity in living memory - one which has seen our budget cut by 7% in real terms since 2010.

"The UK Government's failed and unnecessary policy of austerity continues to place unjustifiable constraints on public services in Wales.

"After seven years of sustained austerity the evidence is clear - it is a failed policy and must be abandoned. Public services across the UK are feeling the pinch and I urge the UK Government to change tack and invest."

A UK Government spokesman said: "We don't recognise these figures, which fail to stand up to scrutiny.

"The truth is that since 2015, the UK government's spending decisions have provided Scotland and Wales with £3.6 billion funding, £2.3bn for the Scottish Government and £1.3 billion for the Welsh Government.

"Both the Scottish and Welsh governments are now increasingly-powerful, devolved Parliaments, with tax-raising powers to fund their own priorities and boost the economy.

"In addition, Scotland and Wales also benefit from the strength of the UK economy, which was the second fastest growing major advanced economy last year."