Labour: Scottish Government has ‘moral duty’ to get budget ‘right for Scotland’

Protecting public sector wages must be one of the key priorities for ministers in what will be “the most significant budget” in the history of devolution, Labour has insisted.

With Deputy First Minister John Swinney due to unveil tax and spending plans for the coming year on December 15, Labour insisted the “substantial” amount of cash at his disposal “must be used wisely in light of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis”.

Party finance spokesman Daniel Johnson demanded: “In the midst of the economic crisis we are facing, every penny of the Scottish Government’s budget must work to deliver for the people of Scotland.”

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He has written to the Deputy First Minister, setting out the key priorities Labour wants to see considered when making decisions in what Mr Johnson said would be “the most significant budget in the history of our parliament”.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney

The Labour MSP added: “While this year’s budget will not have the same scale as last year’s, it will be the second largest budget for the Scottish Parliament since its foundation.

“This is a substantial amount of money that must be used wisely in light of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.”

He went on to tell Mr Swinney: “With the country now in a tough economic situation and public services under threat, it is vital that your government deliver value for money for the people of Scotland.”

Labour insisted protecting public sector wages must be a priority in the forthcoming budget, with Mr Johnson stating: “Public sector workers have continued to deliver public services in the hardest of times and they should be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

It comes as key workers, such as nurses, ambulance staff and teachers are all preparing to take strike action in a bid to improve their pay.

Mr Johnson called on the Scottish Government to guarantee no frontline public sector worker will be left facing redundancy and added ministers should make it their “mission to eradicate low pay from across our public sector”.

Labour also wants to see targeted support given to those who need it most during the cost-of-living crisis, and called for government “waste and inefficiencies” to be tackled.

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Economic growth should also be made a priority, Labour added, along with transparency over spending decisions.

Mr Johnson stated: “This budget is the most important in the history of the Scottish Parliament – and this government has a moral duty to get it right for the people of Scotland.

“The Tory cost-of-living crisis has wrecked our economy and savaged family finances across Scotland.

“That’s why Labour is committed to ensuring that this budget delivers for the most in need in our society.

“We will push the SNP to support those in need, eradicate low pay in the public sector, to end waste and to open the books on government finances.”

Nicola Sturgeon said last week Scotland’s budget for next year would be a “difficult balancing act”. The First Minister blamed a lack of Westminster support to deal with inflationary pressures.

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