The SNP’s independence blueprint would be a “continuation of austerity”, one of the UK’s top economic research institutes has said.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the plans set out by the Sustainable Growth Commission would mean public spending growing less than GDP by three per cent over a decade and the state becoming a “smaller slice of the pie”.
IFS associate director David Phillips, told The Telegraph that “upward” pressure on costs in areas such as the NHS, social care and pensions would mean cuts to other areas or tax rises.
The intervention by the thinktank comes as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon prepares to face party members at the SNP conference this weekend.
Opposition parties have claimed the landmark report made it easier to argue the benefits of the Union as it lays out some of the economic challenges an independent Scotland would face.
Yesterday, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie claimed the Growth Commission had been “astonishingly mishandled”.
Mr Rennie said: “Nicola sounds increasingly desperate, almost panicky, about what she’s done,”
“She’s [Nicola Sturgeon] obviously tried to bring a bit of realism to the independence message, but the realism now sounds dark and despondent... You’ve got a nationalist camp that’s divided as never before.
“Their criticisms of Brexit could equally be applied to independence. That’s the big opportunity for us”.
The First Minister believes the blueprint ‘based on hope - not despair’ could hold the key to a victory in the event of a second independence vote.
She highlighted that the report, delivered by Andrew Wilson was a call for all Scottish voters to ‘look at the arguments afresh’ and that the document offered“clear and solid foundations” to “win the trust of a majority of our fellow citizens”
Writing in a column she for the Sunday Herald, Ms Sturgeon said: “Some others who have been firmly opposed to independence have been prompted to look at the arguments afresh – and while not yet fully persuaded, now see the option of independence as a legitimate and credible one.”