Swinney urges ‘commitment’ on tax powers transfer

Mr Swinney wants the Chancellor to use his autumn statement to make an early commitment to deliver the tax power transfer. Picture: TSPL

Mr Swinney wants the Chancellor to use his autumn statement to make an early commitment to deliver the tax power transfer. Picture: TSPL

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Chancellor George Osborne has been urged to make an “early commitment” to transfer more powers over tax to Holyrood.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney demanded Mr Osborne use this week’s autumn statement to make clear the government would deliver on a proposed new package of devolution to the Scottish Parliament.

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The Smith Commission, which was set up by the UK Government hours after Scots rejected independence in September’s referendum, has now unveiled a series of recommendation for change.

These include devolving air passenger duty and also giving MSPs power over income tax rates and bands, with all the cash raised in Scotland to go to Holyrood and not Westminster.

Mr Swinney said: “The Chancellor must use this autumn statement to make an early commitment to deliver on the financial powers of the Smith Commission and to do so as soon as possible.”

The Deputy First Minister also called on Mr Osborne to increase capital investment in Scotland, raise the minimum wage by at least the rate of inflation, and support innovation and internationalisation in the Scottish economy.

SNP: Give Scotland power over minimum wage

Mr Swinney said: “The Smith Commission did not recommend the job-creating powers I wanted to see come to Scotland but there is action the UK Government can take to support internationalisation in the Scottish economy and to boost innovation. If these powers are not to be transferred to Scotland then the UK Government must show that it will use the powers it has kept in Scotland’s interests.”

He argued that the Scottish Government was “doing all it can, within its powers, to strengthen the Scottish economy.” but added that Westminster budgets had “undermined” work to support economic growth.

He also warned the Conservative Chancellor that continuing the programme of austerity economics would hurt some of the most vulnerable people in the UK

Mr Swinney said: “Efforts to tackle economic inequalities in Scotland are being made in the face of a welfare reform programme that is estimated to remove £6 billion from Scotland’s economy in the six years to 2015-16.

“Pursuing a policy of continued austerity and welfare cuts will have a significant and detrimental impact in Scotland and will have a disproportionate impact on not only Scotland’s but many of United Kingdom’s most vulnerable citizens.

“The Scottish Government believes that now that economic recovery is established, action should be taken to reverse the erosion of the pay levels that those receiving the national minimum wage have experienced since the economic downturn. We believe that the national minimum Wage should, as a minimum, increase in line with inflation.

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“It is also vital that we tackle geographic disparities and use large scale infrastructure projects to maximise opportunities for economic growth in Scotland and across the UK, rather than strengthening existing economic imbalances which benefit the South East of England.

“In that spirit I call on the Chancellor to increase infrastructure spend to support growth. Such investment in the future of our country’s economic health will not only create jobs and prosperity but will, in time, boost the public finances.”

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