SNP set to unveil £118bn '˜anti-austerity' spending package

The SNP is to unveil plans for a £118 billion 'anti-austerity' spending package when the party unveils its manifesto next week. An increase in taxes for high earners will be among the proposals, as well as 'targeted' tax cuts for businesses aimed at boosting economic growth.

Nicola Sturgeon will unveil 'fiscally responsible manifesto to reverse Tory cuts in the SNP manifesto. Picture: John Devlin
Nicola Sturgeon will unveil 'fiscally responsible manifesto to reverse Tory cuts in the SNP manifesto. Picture: John Devlin

The party’s programme for the election will be published on Tuesday in Perth and will set out details of its plans for a second independence referendum. It will also include demands that the Scottish Government gets a seat round the Brexit negotiating table if the SNP wins the election north of the Border.

In a statement released today, Nicola Sturgeon says that reversing the current austerity cuts of the Tory government will be at the heart of her plans. She adds that Whitehall departments have been told to find billions of pounds in cuts by Chancellor Philip Hammond.

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The First Minister is promising a “fiscally responsible” plan to end the cuts, and boost support for public services and families.

This is likely to include an increase in the top rate of tax to 50 pence UK-wide. Sturgeon has the power to introduce this in Scotland but refused to do so, arguing that it would drive high earners south of the Border and result in the tax take falling in Scotland.

Sturgeon insists that her plans present a “credible alternative” to proposals from the Tories and Labour and aimed to “moderate” the rate of deficit reduction by balancing current spending instead of aggressive cuts intended to accumulate a surplus.

Sturgeon says: “The SNP will put forward a responsible and credible fiscal plan that will free up an additional £118 billion of public investment to grow the economy, safeguard our public services, protect household incomes and put the UK’s finances back on a stable footing.

“If that money was rightly spent on public services and supporting low-paid households, it could inject a further £10bn over the next parliament into spending in Scotland.

“The Tories’ plans have nothing to do with strong public finances and are all about their desire to cut benefits, cut pensions and shrink our public services like the NHS and the police . It is only the SNP that can keep the Tories in check.

“It is vital we have strong SNP voices to stop the Tory cuts, protect our pensioners, back our essential public services and help households meet the rising cost of living.”

She pointed out that an analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies this week showed that the Tory manifesto would result in continued austerity cuts, while Labour’s tax plans wouldn’t be enough to fund their own plans.

The SNP’s fiscal plan would, she claimed. balance the budget in five years’ time and see debt begin to fall as a share of GDP within four years.

Tory finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “The nationalists are trying to dictate to the electorate of the very United Kingdom that they want to break up.

“It’s all very well saying they’d raise billions, but they don’t seem to know how. The only way would be to massively increase taxes on hard-working people.”