Nicola Sturgeon: Strong SNP would fight austerity

FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that a strong group of SNP MPs would work to “lock austerity out of Westminster”.

Sturgeon believes SNP MPs could force change if there's a hung parliament. Picture: John Devlin

Ms Sturgeon said that if her party’s MPs hold the balance of power after May’s General Election they would “use their clout” to require Westminster budgets and welfare policy to meet the “more rigorous” standards of the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Government said it has developed a systematic approach to assessing budget decisions for their impact on equality.

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An Equality Assessment of the budget is presented in an Equality Statement, published each year alongside the Scottish Draft Budget, which provides an impact assessment of spend by ministerial portfolio.

In addition, the Equality and Budget Advisory Group - a non-statutory group convened by the Scottish Government - provides advice to the Scottish Government on its approach to embedding equality considerations into the budget process.

The Scottish Government said the UK Government’s programme of austerity cuts has been manifestly unequal in terms of its disproportionate impact on women and disabled people in particular.

Addressing a forum of the Scottish National Party’s General Election candidates in Perth this afternoon, Ms Sturgeon said: “Westminster austerity has created huge new inequalities, and hit women and disabled people the hardest.

“A team of SNP MPs elected in May will use their clout in a likely hung parliament to require UK budgets and welfare policy to be subject to a proper equality assessment - similar to the much more rigorous standards we have in the Scottish Parliament - which would lock austerity out of Westminster.

“This must include restoring the equality impact assessments which the Tories scrapped in 2012.

“A vote for the SNP in May is a vote to end austerity. And this policy initiative is one example of how SNP MPs will deliver fairness in Scotland and promote progressive politics across the UK.”