Budget Tories and LibDems respond to Chancellor’s fiscal measures

Labour’s deputy leader in Scotland, Jackie Baillie, pictured right, Dumbarton constituency MSP, said: “Jeremy Hunt’s budget is far from great news for people in Scotland who are struggling to make ends meet.

“Although the extension of support for help to pay energy bills and the energy price cap are both welcome, fuel costs are already at an unsustainable level for many who are turning to foodbanks to bridge the gap.

“The chancellor’s tax cut for the richest one percent on their pension pots goes to prove how out of touch the Conservatives are with the majority of people in Scotland and across the UK. This is a huge benefit to the very wealthiest in society during a cost of living crisis which is impacting on them the least.

“Both the Tory government in Westminster and the SNP government in Edinburgh are failing Scotland. Only Labour have a plan to support our people and rebuild our economy properly.”

Liberal Democrat Scottish affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine has today criticised the UK Government’s budget for not doing enough to support households hit by the cost of living crisis as well as criticising the rise in whisky duties.

Christine Jardine said:  “This Budget shows the Conservative Party is completely out of touch.  They had a chance to show they care about the cost-of-living crisis that’s hitting millions of Britain’s families and pensioners but they failed miserably.

“This was an opportunity to cut energy bills and give households a real helping hand. They could have borrowed Liberal Democrat plans to cut bills and insulate homes but instead we got more tinkering round the edges.”

On the whisky duty rise she added: This is terrible news for one of Scotland’s most iconic products.  It seems the industry cannot catch a break. Energy bills have spiked, the SNP’s alcohol consultation threatened to close down their gift shops and now the Chancellor is whacking up tax. Distillers are being hung out to dry.

“I know that the Conservatives are desperate for ways to fill the economic black hole that their policies have created but additional taxes on Scotland’s national drink will not help our economy to grow.”

On the proposed expansion of childcare she said:  “It’s now almost half a decade since Jo Swinson made the case that the transition from maternity or paternity leave to funded childcare should be seamless.

“Extra money for some families will be a step in the right direction but there are big questions about the infrastructure and staffing needed for such an expansion. No wonder this policy won’t come into force for some time.

“Nevertheless, it’s clear that flexible childcare can have huge benefits for families so I hope that the Scottish Government will now move forward with plans to expand access too.”

UK excise duty is currently the highest of any country in the G7, with the average priced bottle of Scotch Whisky already taxed at 70%.

Last year the Scotch Whisky Association found a third of people (35%) would also be less likely to visit pubs, bars and restaurants if tax on alcohol increased.

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Chancellor to cut the Energy Price Guarantee by £500 per household, funded through a proper windfall tax on the record profits of oil and gas companies. This would mean average bills would drop to £1,971 a year, with the support in place until next April.

The Liberal Democrats are also calling extra targeted support for the least well-off households, including doubling the Warm Homes Discount to £300.

UK Government’s budget is “great news” for hard-pressed Scots, says Liz Smith.

The Scottish Conservatives have today hailed the UK Chancellor’s budget as “great news” for hard-pressed families in Scotland.

Shadow finance and economy secretary Liz Smith, right,  said Jeremy Hunt’s statement managed to support vulnerable people and encourage economic growth.

And she urged the SNP Government to match his commitment to roll out 30 hours of free childcare to parents of all one and two-year-olds south of the border.

The spending pledges announced by the Chancellor will generate an extra £320 million over two years – in so-called Barnett Consequentials – for the Scottish Government to spend. Liz Smith urged SNP ministers to pass this on in full to deliver on relevant commitments.

But, even before the spending increases, Scots will benefit immediately from the following key measures announced by the Chancellor:

  • An extension to the Energy Price Cap, which will save the typical household £160 this year
  • An end to the premium paid by those on pre-payment meters by adjusting the energy price guarantee
  • A freeze in fuel duty, which will save the average driver £100 this year
  • An increase in Universal Credit childcare payments for parents 

Liz Smith MSP said: “Jeremy Hunt has delivered a budget for growth and stability which is great news for hard-pressed Scottish families.

“The extension of the energy price cap and the fuel duty freeze provide welcome relief for all Scots, while there’s vital support for those feeling the squeeze most with the announcements on pre-payment meters and Universal Credit.

“The move towards 30 hours of free childcare for one and two-year-olds is a huge boost for families and the economy – and it’s essential that the SNP Government follow suit on this now they’ve been given the funding.

“The cost of childcare is a major impediment to new parents returning to work, so this measure will really stimulate economic growth.

“Scotland has also benefited from the targeted spending announced by the Chancellor, not least the £8.6 million earmarked for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, left.

“All in all, this is a welcome package for Scots. SNP ministers must pass on the Barnett Consequentials the budget has generated, so that Scots enjoy the full benefits of it.” 

Jeremy Hunt has extended the energy price guarantee providing greater security for families across the country. The Energy Price Guarantee will be kept at £2,500 for an additional three months saving the typical household £160. While energy prices are 50% lower than forecast in October, they remain high and this support will bridge the gap to the lower prices forecast in June. (UK Spring Budget 2023, 15 March 2023, link) 

The UK Government are ending the premium paid by over four million households using prepayment meters. The UK Government will ensure those who have prepayment meters no longer pay a premium for their energy by adjusting the Energy Price Guarantee from 1 July 2023, saving customers £45 a year on their energy bills. (UK Spring Budget 2023, 15 March 2023, link)

The UK Government are increasing the Universal Credit childcare payments. They will also increase support for those parents on Universal Credit by increasing the Universal Credit childcare maximum amounts to £950.92 for one child and £1,630.15 for two children. (UK Spring Budget 2023, 15 March 2023, link) 

The UK Government will spend £5 billion maintaining the freeze in fuel duty and the 5p cut for another year. The cut to fuel duty announced last year will be extended for a further year and fuel duty will be frozen saving drivers another £100 this year. (UK Spring Budget 2023, 15 March 2023, link)

The UK Government are providing an additional £8.6 million for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The government will provide up to £8.6 million for Scotland’s festival economy. Funding could help build a permanent headquarters for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and create year-round opportunities for local artists and talent across Edinburgh festivals. This will boost Scotland’s festival economy, which contributes over £300 million a year to Scotland. (UK Spring Budget 2023, 15 March 2023, link)

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