Forbes: Budget ‘must respect devolution and not cut funding’

Rishi Sunak is due to set out his spending plans in the House of Commons at 12.30pm.

Forbes: Budget ‘must respect devolution and not cut funding’ PA Media

The Chancellor’s Budget must provide adequate funding and respect devolution, Scotland’s finance secretary has said.

As Scotland’s political parties set out their requests for Rishi Sunak, Kate Forbes said decision-making should not be centralised at Westminster.

Sunak is due to set out his spending plans in the House of Commons at 12.30pm on Wednesday.

Ahead of his statement, SNP minister Forbes said: “The Chancellor must not turn this into a budget that centralises resources and decision-making at Westminster.

“We are still in the throes of a national emergency and it is vital we receive the funds needed to continue to support Scottish businesses and livelihoods.

“The Scottish Government has acted decisively to provide our economy with stability and certainly whenever possible.

“As well as extending non-domestic rates relief by 12 months for the sectors worst hit by pandemic, we have an ongoing commitment to provide Covid-19 grants to businesses as lockdown measures begin ease.

“This lifeline support is contingent on the receipt of additional consequential funding from today’s budget.

“It is therefore more important than ever that the Chancellor today respects the devolution settlement and allows the Scottish Government to effectively develop its ongoing response to the pandemic.”

She said it would be “unacceptable” if the Scottish Government’s budget was cut to pay for UK Government policies.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said businesses needed a clear recovery plan which would protect jobs.

He said: “The top priority for governments in both Edinburgh and London must be bringing our country together so that we can recover from the pandemic.

“Labour is committed to delivering growth across the entire UK, supporting our high streets to thrive, and protecting family finances.

“We understand that having good businesses is vital to creating good jobs, which is why under my leadership we will be a pro-business party – and I will work hard to rebuild our party’s relationship with employers.”

Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross set out eight priorities, including funding for free ports, city deals, extending the £20 Universal Credit uplift and backing key infrastructure projects.

He said: “The pandemic has shown us that Scotland’s place in the UK has been vital in securing jobs and businesses and protecting the most vulnerable in society.

“We have benefitted from almost £10bn of extra funding as well as UK-wide support schemes such as furlough.

“While the sleazy SNP rip themselves apart and plot to separate Scotland from the rest of the UK, my budget asks are all about how best to support and grow the Scottish economy as we emerge from the pandemic.

“The Chancellor has an incredibly tough job but I am confident he will continue to deliver for the people of Scotland.”

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