Scottish government would be in ‘uncharted waters’ if UK public spending cut

Social justice minister Shona Robison told BBC Scotland the Scottish Government would be in “uncharted waters” if public sector budgets are cut by the UK government after Liz Truss would not rule out slashing spending.

Speaking to Radio Scotland on Sunday, Ms Robison said cuts would mean difficulties across “all of our public services”.

The comments came following prime minister Liz Truss’ interview on BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg where she did not rule out cuts to public sector spending.

Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg
Prime Minister Liz Truss on the BBC1 current affairs programme, Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg where she did not rule out cutting public spending. (Stefan Rousseeau/PA)

“If our budget is cut by the Tory government, that will mean difficulties across all of our public services including public sector pay, but we have been trying through the resources we do have to give fair offers to public sector workers,” Ms Robison said.

“We’re trying to do what we can, but if our budget is cut, then we will be in really uncharted waters.”

The Dundee MSP said the Scottish Government would”continue to take action” over the cost of living crisis, but warned they could not mitigate everything, if budgets are cut.

“We’ll continue to take action but we cannot mitigate everything and if public sector budgets are cut, that will be devastating for the budget of the Scottish Government, and it will hamper what we can do.”

She outlined action the Scottish Government had already taken on the cost of living crisis including £3 billion targeted at low income households.

Emergency legislation on a rent freeze for tenants and moratorium on evictions for six months will also be debated at the Scottish parliament this week, she said.

Nicola Sturgeon has already made it clear the Scottish Government, which has the power to set its own income tax bands, will not be following the UK government in implementing tax cuts.

“We’ve also been clear that we will look at very carefully what we can do and what we should do in the context of the emergency budget review later this month, and that’s the right and proper way to go,” she added.

“But it’s not just us saying the tax cuts from the Tories are folly, the IMF of all institutions are saying they are going to increase inequality.

“So of course, we’re not going to do something that increases inequality.”

The UK government will fund the 5% cut in the top rate of tax through record borrowing.

Ms Robison was asked whether this was the “ideal economic model” in the event of Scottish independence.

“Well, other countries have borrowed but they have not introduced the tax regime that the Tories have if you look at Ireland and they’ve just announced 11 billion euro of stimulus which is going to actually help households to the tune of over 2000 euros and that is a balanced package,” she responded.

“It’s not a package that benefits the rich as I said, The Resolution Foundations said that nearly half of the tax gains and financial gains are going to the richest 5% in this country.

“That’s not what other countries are doing.

Presenter Martin Geissler put to Ms Robison that Scotland would be “deeply in the mire” if Scotland was independent as there would be no lender of last resort available.

“No, I don’t believe we would be,” Ms Robison responded.

“We’re deeply in the mire with the UK Government and this union that ties us into the policies that are cutting taxes for the rich.

“If we had independence, we would be able to make our own decisions we would be able to borrow.”