THE SNP has repeated its call for full fiscal autonomy amid suggestions that Westminster’s decision to increase tuition fees has cost the Scottish budget almost £300 million.
Finance Secretary John Swinney said last week that a £3 billion cut to the teaching grant spend in England could result in a £298 million cut in Scotland’s block grant.
Spending decisions in England have a consequent impact on Scotland’s budget through calculations based on the Barnett formula.
But SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said the near £300 million cut “shows why full financial powers should be in Scotland’s hands”.
“Westminster’s £9,000 tuition fees south of the border have been an unmitigated disaster in every respect, increasing student debt and costing the taxpayer more in the long run,” she said.
“Now we know that it could cost Scotland as much as £300 million despite the policy being rejected time and time again by the Scottish people.
“£300 million is a serious cut at a time when public services are already suffering as a result of Tory austerity policies - and the fact that this cut is a result of the shameful imposition of tuition fees by the UK Government simply makes matters worse.
“The idea that Scotland’s budget could face consequential cuts because of the regressive education policies pursued by an out-of-touch Tory Government we didn’t vote for is absolutely ridiculous - and shows exactly why full powers over the economy should be in Scotland’s hands, so our budgets are no longer subject to the whims of David Cameron and George Osborne.
“I am proud that we have defended free access to higher education throughout our time in government despite opposition from the other parties - and we will continue to defend their right to free learning and ensure Scotland’s higher education sector continues to go from strength to strength.”