Scotland’s Finance Secretary has urged the Chancellor to avoid “ill-timed tax breaks” in Wednesday’s Autumn Statement that she said would benefit the wealthy but exert more pressure on public services.
Shona Robison has written to Jeremy Hunt setting out a list of the Scottish Government’s demands, including an increase in its capital budget.
Describing the Autumn Statement as an “important opportunity” for Westminster to support people and businesses in Scotland against economic headwinds, Ms Robison, who is also Deputy First Minister, said there should be an “essential guarantee” to ensure people on low incomes had basic necessities.
“The UK faces a combination of low growth and high interest rates. The Autumn Statement must learn the lessons from last year’s “mini budget” - it must not compound these problems with ill-timed tax breaks which would place even greater pressure on the public finances. added.
Many families struggling with rises in the cost of living
“With many families continuing to struggle with the cost of living, the Chancellor must not use this statement to cut benefits,” she added.
Mr Hunt is known to be considering reducing taxes on income, inheritance and businesses on Wednesday but has insisted that fostering economic growth is his priority.
Meanwhile, Humza Yousaf, the First Minister, has been urged to use the Scottish Budget to force Scotland’s richest citizens to “clean up their acts” to reduce the environmental damage being inflicted on the country after a plea by Oxfam Scotland ahead of the unveiling of 2024-25’s draft budget at Holyrood next month.
The charity wants the tax regime to encourage those responsible for pollution to change their behaviour. It urged Mr Yousaf to act before he travels to the Cop28 climate conference in Dubai later this month.
Climate crisis caused by ‘excessive lifestyles of richest people’
Jamie Livingstone, of Oxfam Scotland, said: “Climate culpability is crystal clear: around the world and here in Scotland, the climate crisis is being driven disproportionately by the excessive lifestyles of the richest people.
“If the First Minister is to build and maintain critical public support for the depth and speed of transition that’s needed, climate action must be patently fair. That means he must do everything in his power to compel the richest to clean up their acts while paying the bill for the damage they’re causing.”
Analysis by Future Economy Scotland found the carbon footprint of the 5 per cent of wealthiest households was 10 times that of the poorest 5 per cent of households between 2017 to 2019.
Laurie Macfarlane, co-director of the think-tank, said: “The First Minister must make a bold, concerted effort to ensure the costs of decarbonisation are shared in a way that’s fair and just, by showing he has both the political will and courage to make polluters pay.”
The Scottish Government said it was committed to tackling the climate emergency.
“While the majority of taxes remain reserved to the UK Government, we are committed to using the limited powers we do have to help meet our climate targets,” said its spokesman. “Tackling poverty is one of the three missions at the heart of our programme for government and our 2024/25 Budget will be utilised to make progress to achieving this.”