Spending fears

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Bill Jamieson (Perspective, 23 April) excellently summarised the UK’s and thus Scotland’s financial slough when he wrote that “so many spending commitments have been stacked one upon another on an already shrunken fiscal base”.

That has been true for years – the UK’s annual fiscal deficit and thus Scotland’s (see, for example, the over-optimistic 2013 balance sheet estimates) have long been in negative territory, hence the inexorable increase of the £1,500 billion debt, which is still rising.

Asserting that new spending can immediately be met from “growth” is a nonsense; many years of growth are needed to build up extra spendable income, totally dependent on unpredictable global trends.

Reducing the deficits to zero and then generating a surplus seem to belong in the distant future.

Borrowing more immediately to meet electoral promises makes it all worse, yet such borrowing is what is implied by the SNP’s policies in particular.

Britain is financially precarious, and lengthening the time for seriously tackling the annual deficit cannot be recommended – the increasing interest on the ever-accumulating debt blocks extra expenditure on public services.

Saying austerity is at an end is misleading to voters; harder times could be ahead if deficit reduction is curtailed. Helping those particularly hard-hit through no fault of their own is necessary.

To achieve this redistribution of societal pay and altering the focusing of taxation remain possible, but this does not mean losing sight of turning round the country’s finances.

Joe Darby