Budget 2016: look beyond the headlines

As well as the sweet stuff there were plenty of measures that will leave a sour taste in the mouth...

This week George Osborne stood up and delivered his latest budget in the House of Commons.

The headlines focused on a new sugar tax that will increase the cost of fizzy drinks like Irn Bru. But as well as the sweet stuff there were plenty of measures that will leave a sour taste in the mouth.

The Chancellor was up front about £3.5 billion in additional cuts that the Tories will make to services. But buried in the detail were little extras that will slash the amount of money we spend on public services further.

Plans to reduce the public service pension scheme discount rate will increase the amount that public sector organisations have to pay for staff pensions. This change alone will cost public sector employers £2bn by 2020/21.

These backdoor cuts will put extra pressure on hard working public sector staff. They mean more job losses and a squeeze on services.

We also saw swingeing cuts to support for people with disabilities to pay for tax cuts for the richest in society. The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies estimate that the changes to disability benefits would hit 370,000 people, with an average loss of £3,500 a year.

Ruth Davidson has been clear that the Scottish Tories will match the Chancellor’s plan to cut tax for the rich and cut services for everyone else. These cuts belong to her every bit as much as George Osborne.

When you look beyond the headlines, it is clear that this was a typical Tory budget from a typical Tory Chancellor, aided and abetted by Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Conservatives.

In Scotland, we have the powers to do things differently on tax if we choose. This is why we have proposed a penny for education to allow us to invest £475 million in nurseries, schools and colleges. It is why we have said that when Scotland receives the power to set tax bands in 2017, our priority is a zero-rate tax band, which will effectively extend the personal allowance and lift thousands of people on low incomes out of tax altogether.

Liberal Democrats will go into this Scottish Parliament election with a bold platform focussed on boosting public services like our schools and hospitals. Unlike the Tories, with their hidden cuts and stealth taxes, we will be up front with Scots about how we will pay for our plans. That is no less than the voters deserve.

Share this post on social media:

Sign in with Facebook, Twitter or Email.