Speaking ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on Tuesday, SNP
Westminster Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP called on the UK
Government to “stop dithering and start delivering” measures to boost
the economy and enhance consumer confidence.
Mr Hosie, a Member of the Treasury Select Committee, said:
“George Osborne must stop dithering and start delivering a plan MacB
to stimulate the economy by supporting capital investment, improving
access to finance and enhancing economic security.
“So far the Chancellor’s rhetoric has not been matched by the
arithmetic, and the autumn statement must bring a change of direction.
“The Treasury must follow the successful strategy of the Scottish
Government and set out a targeted, cost effective, programme of new
capital investment. Despite a 36 per cent real terms cut in its
capital budget, the Scottish Government are using every lever at its
disposal to invest more into capital in the coming years – with the
result that investment in infrastructure is rising by a quarter in
Scotland over the spending period.
“In particular, the construction sector is crucial and the Chancellor
should respond positively to the proposals by many in the sector to
reduce the rate of VAT on repair and maintenance work to houses from
20 per cent to 5 per cent. This would help improve our housing stock,
create jobs and potentially bring empty homes back into use.
“Action is also needed to help pension funds and other large
institutional investors to channel a proportion of their investment
into major infrastructure projects, while reducing the interest
charged on local authority public borrowing would let councils
maximise their part in supporting the economy.
“Securing affordable access to finance remains a serious challenge for
many businesses and Project Merlin must fully deliver its lending
commitments, particularly to small and medium sized firms. Encouraging
new entrants to the banking market would provide businesses with
alternative options when seeking finance and will help boost
competition in the sector.
“Scotland is home to a world class video game industry, including in
my own Dundee constituency, and there is a strong case to reverse the
last Labour Government’s decision to abandon proposals for tax relief
for the video games industry.
“This must be an autumn statement that delivers for individuals as
well as businesses because economic confidence has been weakened as
household budgets are being squeezed by rising fuel and food prices,
so it is imperative to mitigate these pressures.
“Again the Scottish Government has shown the way forward by acting to
continue freezing the council tax, abolish prescription and protect
concessionary travel. In contrast, there is growing concern at reports
that the UK Government is considering uprating benefit levels next
year by less than the rate of inflation. Increasing that would slash
the incomes of some of the most vulnerable in our society, and I have
urged the Chancellor not to cut benefits incomes next year.
“It is clear that Scotland needs the same financial and economic
powers as other nations have, so that we can grow our economy and
revenues as the only alternative to a decade or more of
Westminster-dictated cuts. We have used the powers we have wisely – we
now need the same powers as other countries have in order to sort this