Excessive borrowing, the claimed Labour disease, is clearly spreading to the ConDems with £158bn more borrowing over the next four years than it planned a year ago. Cash that won’t even be spent stimulating the economy, instead he will be borrowing to pay for unemployment and lost tax receipts of the newly jobless. The much vaunted growth forecasts have been downgraded by the OBR to just short of another recession.
And what will Scotland get from this dogs breakfast? Well it’s very difficult to see from the 98 pages of the Autumn Statement. Not even a supplementary Barnett consequentials paper on the Treasury website. The Scotland Office tells us “Scotland will receive an additional £433m in Barnett consequentials for capital projects.” And the revenue consequentials? No one seems to know. Not in the documents. Not in the Scotland Office statement. I understand phone calls from Scottish Government officials to the Treasury have not produced an answer. So John Swinney is left saying “the Treasury are so far unable to tell so how much our revenue budget is to fall.” It all gives the impression of a hastily cobbled together plan.
We don’t even get the capital straight away. The nominal figures are £50 million for 2011-12, followed by £68.3 million, £141.9 million and £172.3 million in subsequent years, eventually totalling £432.5 million.
What we do know is there’s plenty of other bad news in the Statement for Scottish workers and their families:
· Raising the state pension age to 67 by 2026. Further proof you can’t trust this Government on pensions.
· More public sector job cuts. 710,000 across the UK and that could mean around 70,000 in Scotland
· A public sector pay cap of 1% for the next two years when inflation is topping 5%. The cumulative effect of 2 yr pay freeze, 2 yr 1% pay cap + pension contributions increase will be a 16.48% pay cut in public sector.
· Looking at Regional Pay so he can give ungrateful public sector workers in the most deprived regions of England and Scotland a further pay cut.
· Promised increases in Child Tax Credit abandoned.
· Creating further job insecurity by undermining employment rights on unfair dismissal, redundancy and TUPE.
· And if you still have a job you are more likely to die at work when health and safety rules are abandoned.
In essence the UK Government is planning to borrow £billions to keep workers on the dole rather than investing to get people into work and growing the economy. Even those in work will be less willing to spend when they see what’s coming.
On the eve of the probably the largest strike the UK has ever seen – the priorities of this Government are very clear for all to see.