Scotland ‘£2.3bn better off from being in the UK’

Secretary of State Alistair Carmichael made the comments prior to this year's budet. Picture: Greg Macvean
Secretary of State Alistair Carmichael made the comments prior to this year's budet. Picture: Greg Macvean
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SCOTTISH Secretary Alistair Carmichael has boasted that the coalition has already boosted Scotland’s finances by £2.3 billion ahead of today’s Budget.

But the Scotland Office analysis comes as Labour claims that decisions made by Tory and Lib Dem ministers have taken £2.7 billion out of spending north of the Border.

In a pre-Budget briefing, the Scotland Office attempted to lay out the economic benefits of Scotland being in the UK over the last five years under the coalition government including £2.3 billion extra going to Scotland as a result of the Barnett Formula on UK funding.

Among its other successes it claimed were 187,000 more people in employment since 2010, while cutting unemployment by 70,000. It also showed women’s employment is up 107,000 in the last five years.

The raising of the income tax threshold to £10,000 has cut the bills of 2.32 million people in Scotland while taking 261,000 out of paying income tax altogether.

The paper also claims that one million pensioners have bene­fitted from the “triple lock” on the state pension, which means it rises by either the September consumer price index figure, growth in average weekly earnings or 2.5 per cent, whichever is highest.

Meanwhile, it said that 210,000 Scottish families have benefitted from tax-free childcare, while 2.7 million drivers pay less fuel duty after planned rises by Labour were cancelled.

Mr Carmichael said: “Being part of the UK has given Scotland an economic strength and resilience.

“Thousands of people across the country are better off because of the tax reforms we have introduced and the opportunities of employment our policies have created.

“We have cut tax for millions of people while making the right decisions about managing debt, putting our finances on a sound and sustainable footing.”

He added: “This Budget is set in the context of the need to further reduce our national deficit. But it is also a Budget delivered in the context of falling debt, low inflation, record low borrowing and mortgage rates and a level of growth vying to be the fastest in the G7.”

But responding, shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran said that the coalition had hurt the poor and damaged Scotland’s finances.

She said: “George Osborne has had five years in charge and he’s failed the tests he set himself. People are worse off now than they were in 2010, thousands have suffered because of the Tories’ cruel cuts and now he wants to take us back to 1930s levels of spending, before there was even an NHS.

“This would mean £2.7bn taken out of Scotland’s budget. Labour will end Tory austerity.”

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