22 Jan 2013
The Scottish Government has today failed to take the opportunity to prioritise the economy in its budget for next year.
Finance Secretary John Swinney announced no major changes as part of the Stage One debate on the 2013/14 draft budget.
The Scottish Conservatives have said significant improvements will have to be made before their support is given to it.
Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Gavin Brown MSP said:
“As it stands the budget has not made the economy a big enough priority.
“We are prepared to discuss issues with the Scottish Government in between now and stage three, but there will have to be significant movement.
“It must be pointed out that next year’s budget from the Treasury shows a cash terms increase and the total Scottish budget is £2 billion higher than it was in the first full year of SNP government.
“This budget should help create a future of job security, prosperity and a better quality of life for everyone – that should be the over-riding goal.
“Instead, the Scottish Government is taking substantial sums away from colleges at a time of high youth unemployment, and removing significant amounts from the housing budget at a time of severe pressure for the construction industry.
“It is using its taxation powers to increase its tax take on business rates and continues with the retail levy and empty properties tax and a time when the business community can least afford it.
“All of these measures will be damaging to the economy.
“On top of that we are not seeing any effective action on town centre regeneration and still no sign of an air route development fund.
“Most of the budgets relating to the economy have taken a hit, and the Scottish Government now has two weeks to turn this around if it wants to get our support.”