Everyone’s a loser in disastrous SNP/Green budget - Alex Cole-Hamilton

I love the pace of this time of year. The dog walks, the board games and the line-by-line analysis of the draft Scottish budget.
Did Finance Secretary Shona Robison understand the implications of the Scottish Budget? (Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images)Did Finance Secretary Shona Robison understand the implications of the Scottish Budget? (Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Did Finance Secretary Shona Robison understand the implications of the Scottish Budget? (Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images)

I know, I know, and I have been spending the lion’s share of my time away from work with family and friends, but when Parliament returns next week, we will be straight into the detail of a budget that was laid in the last days of the year. My party will be ready to fight for both the essential services that you rely on and the steps needed to grow the economy.

While it may have appeared amid the last shopping days before Christmas, readers will still remember the excoriating reaction ‘the most disastrous budget since devolution’ received in the national press.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And it is disastrous. While SNP and Green politicians will bleat about this all being Westminster’s fault, this dog’s breakfast of a budget is home grown.

They spent years ignoring the expert warnings around a budget black hole and the fallout of their failure to grow the economy.

Remember that this budget was drafted by the same ministers who have squandered millions on ferries that have yet to sail, will take 30 years to dual the A9 and sold Scotland's prize seabed on the cheap by capping the price companies could pay for wind farm sites and in so doing botching the best chance for generations to bring serious money into the public purse.

Despite their blunders, the nationalists opted to continue writing cheques they knew people wouldn’t be able to cash.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

You don’t have to dig too deep into the lines of the budget to understand who the principal losers are now going to be. First off, Scotland’s councils are really going to cop it.

The First Minister promised to make them whole when he put them in a bind on council tax, but councils say their services will be pushed to "breaking point" and that some will have to stop altogether.

That’s bad news for pupils, because education is half of what our councils do and under the SNP we are slipping further down the international rankings. It’s also bad for anyone who relies on social care and by extension anyone who is stuck in hospital for want of a care package to allow them home. That will spell more cancelled operations and longer waits at accident and emergency.

This is a budget which also flies in the face of the reality that we are in the middle of a housing emergency because it cuts a third from the new homes budget.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And astonishingly, given the SNP's coalition with the Green Party, these spending plans also turn their back on the climate and nature emergencies too. The energy efficiency budget has been cut by £9.3m and the Just Transition Fund has been cut by over 75 per cent, flying in the face of the need to power up the green economy and move away from fossil fuels.

They’ve also decided not to get to grips with the sewage crisis in our rivers and beaches - cutting funding to Scottish Water by over £1m just at a time when we need it to clean up its act. They have delivered a real-terms cut to Scotland’s drug and alcohol services too, just when drug deaths appear to be creeping up again.

All of this points to nationalist ministers who are tired and out of ideas. It's time we were rid of them because people need a government that will offer new hope to Scotland's economy and public services.

Alex Cole-Hamilton is Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.