Scotland's finance secretary urges UK chancellor not to cut taxes

Shona Robison said Jeremy Hunt should prioritise investment in public services.

Scotland’s Finance Secretary has urged UK chancellor Jeremy Hunt not to cut taxes in his Budget.

Shona Robison said the spring Budget on Wednesday should prioritise investment in public services, not tax cuts.

It comes after Hunt said during interviews with broadcasters on Sunday that he wants Britain to “move towards a lower tax economy”.

He said he feels a “moral duty to leave as much money in people’s pockets as possible” but any tax cuts will have to be “sustainable” and “affordable”.

Robison told BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show that along with bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and the Office for Budget Responsibility, she shares the view that the spring Budget “should prioritise investment in public services, not tax cuts”.

She said: “All of these organisations have said the same: that tax cuts are unaffordable and, indeed, it is the investment in public services that are needed.

“I agree with that and I really hope that Wednesday will see a change in the direction that Jeremy Hunt takes, particularly on investment on capital so we that we can invest in our infrastructure, things like affordable housing, for example, so those are the key priorities that I and many others are calling on Jeremy Hunt to prioritise.”

She also called for the £1.6bn real-terms cut to the Scottish Government’s capital budget over the next five years to be reversed.

Robison, who is Scotland’s deputy first minister, also defended the Scottish Government’s budget, passed earlier this week, which she said had been “really challenging” because of a real-terms cut to the funding coming to Scotland and had involved “difficult choices”.

She said her priority had been to protect frontline services.

Scottish Conservative shadow finance secretary Liz Smith said: “It’s ridiculous of Shona Robison to be giving the UK Chancellor advice on growth, when the SNP’s dire record led to her savage tax-and-axe budget that means Scots will be paying more to receive fewer and worse services.

“It’s even more absurd for her to call for housing investment when she has just cut Scotland’s housing budget by 26%, and Shelter Scotland say the SNP are ‘gaslighting’ the public on the subject.

“She showed no regret over failing to pass on rates relief money that other parts of the UK receive.

“Her tone-deaf defence of her disastrous budget – roundly condemned by everyone except her own party – shows no remorse for the SNP’s appalling mismanagement.”

The UK Government has been asked for comment.

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