Devolved finance ministers issue joint warning on ‘unnecessary’ austerity plans

John Swinney MSP
John Swinney MSP

Finance ministers from all three Devolved Administrations have issued a joint warning that UK austerity plans “present unnecessary risks to our public services”.

In a joint statement, finance ministers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have warned that Chancellor George Osborne’s ongoing programme of cuts would reduce public spending in the UK too fast and too far.

Writing to chief secretary to the treasury Greg Hands, ministers have called for early engagement in the Spending Review process. The letter was signed by deputy first minister John Swinney, Arlene Foster of the Northern Ireland Executive, and Jane Hutt of the Welsh Government.

Mr Swinney said: “The UK government’s broken austerity programme is reducing household income, damaging economic confidence and weakening public finances. That represents a clear threat to our public services.

“The recent Budget was misguided and deeply unfair, with disproportionate cuts falling on the poorest and most vulnerable sections of society while giving tax breaks to the better-off.

“The three Devolved Administrations agree that ongoing austerity presents unnecessary risks to our public services. The planned announcement of the UK Spending Review in late November leaves little time for setting our own budgets before 2016-17, presenting significant operational challenges and potentially constraining the time available for Parliamentary process.

“We therefore need early engagement to help us understand, as fully and as early as possible, the shape of likely funding settlements from the Spending Review.

“The Scottish Government will continue to argue against the failed austerity programme and speak up for the policies to promote economic growth, protect our public services and help the most vulnerable in society.”

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