Monday, June 5, 2023

Budget was ‘bleak’ John Swinney says councils braced for impact of cuts

The budget tabled for Holyrood on Thursday was “bleak” and the delivery of public services will need reform, Scotland’s deputy first minister has said.

John Swain, who is also the country’s acting finance secretary, presented the government’s tax and spending plans this week with a focus on the NHS and social security.

He announced that people earning more than £43,662 would pay more in tax as the top rate was raised from 41p to 42p, while the top-rate cap was reduced to £125,140 as the rate rose from 46p to 47p Was.

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Council leaders condemned the budget, saying it could lead to the end of some public services. Local authority body Cosala said a £550 million increase in council funding was actually only £71 million in real terms.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Show, Swinney said: “I clearly presented a very bleak picture to Parliament on Thursday.

“It was an explanation of the very real difficulties we find ourselves in as a result of some global issues that we often feel are far beyond us.

“But on this occasion the war in Ukraine has brought energy and price inflation to the center of our economy and public services – compounded by some significant strategic mistakes made in the United Kingdom around Brexit and the mini-budget. Early September ”

He added: “I think anyone watching my budget statement on Thursday will recognize that I have given a very clear, open explanation of the scale of the difficulty that we face.”

Speaking at the same event, Katie Hagman, a spokeswoman for Cosla Resources, said there was “disappointment across the board” at the agreement for local government, adding that the council would “try desperately to protect border services”.

Swinney also said that, as a result of financial pressure, the country should be open to reforming public services in order to save money.

“The financial pressure on all of us from inflation is so great that we have to change the way we deliver public services,” he said.

Citing reports of the budget being left-wing, Swinney said it was “right for the time being”.

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“We are facing serious challenges that require bold action and that is what I did on Thursday,” he said.

Hagman, a councilor for Dumfries and Galloway, told the program that after each local authority received its allocation on Monday council leaders would have to work out how to balance their budgets, adding that “without extra money” There are going to be some really challenging and difficult decisions for local authorities”.

She explained: “In our budget lobbying, we tried to ask what was really asked for, what we are trying to protect.

“The example we gave was, if we get a billion pounds that would save, possibly as you say job cuts, that translates to the equivalent of 17,500 teachers.

The National: Hagman says teachers' jobs could be at risk if further funding is not providedHagman said teachers’ jobs could be at risk if more funding is not provided

“We are looking at essential services, things like youth work, things like economic development, working with our third sectors as well as domestic abuse and family support services.

“These are all considered essential services and we are on the front lines in local government, and it is these types of services that we will try desperately to protect because, frankly, they are the first line.”

Scottish Tory MSP Craig Hoy did not say later in the event whether the party would raise or freeze taxes, but said: “I think it is a worrying trend that the SNP is starting to tax middle income earners and Scotland and the rest of the UK, as this will only undermine our competitiveness.

“And if they’ve been running Scotland’s public services properly over the last decade, if they’ve been running the tax system here in Scotland properly, they may not be forced to tax at the moment.”

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Asked whether the Scottish Tories urged the Scottish government to follow the UK government’s disastrous tax plans under Liz Truss and Quasi Kwarteang in their infamous mini-budget, Hoy hit back at claims supported by party leader Douglas Ross Did.

He said: “What we said was that we wanted to make sure that if there was a significant change to the tax regime in the rest of the UK, Scotland tried to match wherever possible. There was no support.” do.”

Scottish Labor finance spokesman Daniel Johnson said Swinney was “out of touch with Scotland”.

He added, “Even SNP councilors are calling out their own party for failing to support councils after 15 years of barbaric cuts.”

“Claiming to reject austerity, John Swinney is imposing it on local government – ​​dismantling council services across the country.”

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