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SNP focuses on 'responsible' taxes

Sturgeon switches from indyref to public finances

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon: responsible plan (photo by Terry Murden)

Nicola Sturgeon will present the SNP as “fiscally responsible” when she unveils the party’s general election manifesto this week.

In a pre-launch statement she makes no mention of independence, in what appears to be an attempt to establish the party’s credentials on handling public finances.

It will aim to overturn what it regards as “Tory austerity cuts” and propose investment in public services.

Ms Sturgeon will claim that the plans present a “credible alternative” to proposals from the Tories and Labour whose tax plans have been heavily criticised by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Theresa May has also been weakened by her u-turn social care.

IFS director Paul Johnson last week said neither the Tories nor Labour was “being really honest with the public”.

He said: “It is likely that the Conservatives would either have to resort to tax or borrowing increases to bail out public services under increasing pressure, or would risk presiding over a decline in the quality of some of those services, including the NHS.”

On Labour, the think tank said “they should be willing to candidly set out the consequences – higher taxation affecting broad segments of the population.”

The SNP proposals would release an additional £118bn for public spending UK-wide over the course of the parliament – “freeing up resources for public services, protecting family budgets, and enabling a fair social security system”. 

The SNP’s fiscal plan would aim to balance the current budget by the end of the Parliament (2021/22), stabilise net borrowing at the level it was at before the financial crash and see debt begin to fall as a share of GDP from 2019/20.   

Branding Tory plans for deeper austerity “unnecessary, ideological and self-defeating”, Ms Sturgeon said in statement today: “Both the Conservatives’ and Labour’s economic plans at this election have unravelled already under scrutiny from the IFS, which has confirmed that a vote for the Tories is a vote for more cuts.

 “The SNP manifesto will set out a clear alternative to continued Tory austerity – and the unnecessary, ideological, and self-defeating cuts that have held back the economy, damaged public services, and hammered millions by squeezing family budgets.

“We will not follow the Tories in their blind pursuit of a pre-election surplus to spend in five years time, or Labour in their reckless plans to hike taxes without knowing if they will secure any additional revenue. 

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“The SNP will put forward a responsible and credible fiscal plan that will free up an additional £118 billion of public investment to grow the economy, safeguard our public services, protect household incomes and put the UK’s finances back on a stable footing.

“If that money was rightly spent on public services and supporting low paid households it could inject a further £10bn over the next parliament into spending in Scotland.

“The Tories’ plans have nothing to do with strong public finances and are all about their desire to cut benefits, cut pensions and shrink our public services like the NHS and the police . It is only the SNP that can keep the Tories in check.

“Now more than ever, it is vital we have strong SNP voices to stop the Tory cuts, protect our pensioners, back our essential public services and help households meet the rising cost of living.

“A vote for the SNP will send a strong message to the Tories that unnecessary cuts are simply unacceptable and will help us make Scotland the best country it can be.”

* Private sector growth eased in the three months to May, according to the CBI’s latest Growth Indicator.

The survey of 721 respondents across the manufacturing, distribution and service sectors showed that growth slowed a little (+13%), in comparison to April (+18%).

The slowdown in momentum was mainly driven by business & professional services. Manufacturing output continued to record a robust expansion, with the retail sector and consumer services gaining a little momentum following a lacklustre start to the year.

Overall, expectations are for the pace of growth in the private sector to pick up a little over the next three months (+18%), with healthy demand growth in manufacturing and business & professional services off-setting a slowdown in retail and falling volumes in consumer services.

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Chief Economist, said: “The UK economy continues to perform solidly, if not spectacularly. Emboldened by a weaker currency, our manufacturers are getting on with it and recorded strong growth again this quarter.

“But on the other hand inflation is starting to bite, having an impact on household incomes with costs rising at the factory gate and on the high street.”

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