Left feeling disappointed with the lack of support for devolved nations

Tuesday November 22nd 2022

Colin Beattie MSP
Colin Beattie MSP, Midlothian North & Musselburgh, writes his monthly column for Midlothian View

The long-awaited Chancellor’s Autumn statement was finally delivered to the country with many, including myself, left feeling disappointed with the lack of support for devolved nations and the most vulnerable households.

What is very clear from the statement is the Chancellor and the UK Government expect us, the public, to pay for their grave mistakes. Scotland did not choose Brexit or receive any prior engagement on Kwasi Kwarteng’s disastrous mini-budget.

This was a prime opportunity for the UK Government to be honest and transparent with the public – hold their hands up to their previous mistakes and go further to help households across the country who need it the most.

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak and his Cabinet can try to distance themselves from the chaos of Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng but what households need is firm action to tackle this cost-of-living crisis but instead, the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) has confirmed the UK is now in a recession and that living standards are set to fall by 7% in the next 2 years. Even more worryingly, the Bank of England warning this could be the longest recession since the 1930s.

It does not appear this crisis we are currently experiencing will improve and we will see more families plunged into poverty at no fault of their own. The reality of the situation is bleak – Scotland as a devolved nation has tried to prioritise vulnerable households in its limited budget but the Scottish Budget has fallen by 10% in real terms between this year and last. The Chancellor’s statement failed to address inflationary increases to devolved governments’ budgets which are vital to support households, fair pay for our public sector and public services.

The devolved nations are in a difficult position. Watching the Tories reintroduce austerity and fail to protect our public services. Scotland’s hands are tied behind its back with the inability to make any of these decisions on our own. There is very little, if not no further flexibility in the Scottish Budget under the pressures of inflation to make a real difference to this Tory-made crisis.

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