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SNP wants support for Barnett

Hosie demands Westminster stands by Scotland’s budget

Stewart HosieSNP economy spokesperson Stewart Hosie has demanded that Westminster makes a commitment to Scotland’s agreed budget and rules out a review of the agreement for funding services north of the border.

He written to Chancellor George Osborne and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell calling on them to respect the Scotland Act agreement and rule out a review of the Barnett formula and further cuts to Scotland’s budget.

The calls have been made in response to a series of interventions in recent weeks from senior Tory and Labour spokespeople calling for a review of the Barnett formula.

Tory leadership contender and prospective Prime Minister Andrea Leadsom is said to have claimed in a blog tht the union “vastly favours them [the Scottish people] over the English and Welsh”.

She said: “This is all thanks to the Barnett formula, set up around 30 years ago, to guarantee Scotland a far higher level of public spending per head than in England and Wales.”

She went on to say that Scotland receives “more each year per annum from the public purse than us poor English” and criticises Scottish Government policies such as free university tuition, which she claims are funded “using the tax revenues that are so heavily subsidised by the English.”

Her comments follow intervention by Justice Secretary Michael Gove, who raised the prospect of scrapping the Barnett formula claiming there was a need to explore a “fairly-funded” union “for our new circumstances” despite Scotland’s fiscal framework only having been agreed by the UK government in February this year. 

New Shadow Scottish Secretary Dave Anderson has signed a motion attacking Scotland’s budget and calling for an “immediate review” of the Barnett formula “with a view of introducing a fairer method of distributing public expenditure between England and Scotland.”

There have been longstanding calls from Tory and Labour representatives for a suspension of the formula, while Tory MPs including Dominic Raab, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Alan Duncan, have been among those calling on the UK government to “resolve the financial unfairness of the Barnett formula.” 

letter to Osborne

In his letter, Mr Hosie calls on the Chancellor and Shadow Chancellor to urgently clarify the position of the UK government and Labour opposition with regards to the Barnett formula and Scotland’s budget.

Mr Hosie points out that both parties have been asked to clarify their position several times over the past week in parliament and in the press but have failed to do so and calls on them to “stand by the fiscal framework agreement and unequivocally rule out any further cuts to Scotland’s budget.”

He said: “It is deeply concerning that neither the Tory government nor the Labour opposition have been willing to rule out a review of the Barnett formula or deny their intention to make further cuts to Scotland’s budget – despite repeated calls and opportunities to do so.

“This is no longer a matter of throwaway comments by the odd backbencher but a series of interventions by senior frontbench Tory and Labour spokespeople – including, potentially, our next Prime Minister – openly suggesting that Scotland’s budget should be slashed.

George Osborne Commons 2“The impact of such changes could cost Scotland several billion pounds. That is why I have today written to the Chancellor (right) and Shadow Chancellor seeking urgent clarification, calling on them to stand by Scotland’s fiscal framework agreement and unequivocally rule out any further cuts to Scotland’s budget.

“It has only been a matter of months since the bilateral fiscal framework agreement between the UK and Scottish Governments was made and it would be outrageous if the Tories and Labour were now to go back on their word and pursue further cuts to Scotland’s budget.

“It would certainly break the Smith Commission ‘no detriment’ principle and it would make a mockery of the Vow the Westminster parties made to the Scottish people in the run up to the Independence referendum.

“So many of the promises made by the Westminster parties to the Scottish people in that referendum are now unravelling or have already proven to be false. Given the uncertainty and damage the Westminster parties have already caused the country and economy with the Brexit vote it is vital we now get some clarity on their plans for Scotland’s budget.”

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