George Osborne should “come clean” about his plans for Scotland’s finances when he makes his Autumn Statement, Finance Secretary John Swinney has demanded.
Mr Swinney issued the challenge to the UK Chancellor before today’s statement which the Prime Minister has said will set out “the next steps in a long-term plan to turn our country round”.
But the Scottish Government has raised fears that if voters opt to stay part of the UK, Scotland could be in line for Budget cuts totalling as much as £4 billion.
Mr Swinney said: “The Autumn Statement is a chance for the Chancellor to chart a proper course for a sustained economic recovery, but he also needs to come clean about his future plans for Scotland’s finances.”
The Tories, Liberal Democrats and Labour are “lining up to slash Scotland’s cash if there was to be a No vote in the referendum” next September, he claimed, adding that a House of Commons report last week suggested “the scale of the cuts coming Scotland’s way in those circumstances would be as high as £4 billion a year”.
The Finance Secretary warned: “That would be a devastating blow to Scotland’s economy and to the ability of any Scottish Government to properly fund the range of popular policies this administration has taken forward in recent years.”
He has demanded assurances from the Chancellor that his statement today will make no more cuts to Scotland’s Budget, arguing that the previous reductions have been “deeply damaging” and represent a failure to respect the system of devolution, under which the Budget is approved by Holyrood.
“Scotland has raised more tax per head than the UK for every one of the last 30 years,” he said.
“The benefits of taking Scotland’s future into Scotland’s hands have been set out in our comprehensive 670-page blueprint for independence, but the costs of putting our future in Westminster’s hands are becoming increasingly clear.
“Only a Yes vote next year, and the full economic powers of independence, will protect Scotland’s Budget and allow us to grow the economy and create more jobs.”