STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith said:
“The Chancellor’s budget dramatically failed to deliver for the people of Britain. Promises of ending austerity have clearly failed to materialise in a budget scant on new spending promises. It is disappointing to see more tax cuts for businesses taking priority. The economy will prosper only when people have more spending power. This budget is devoid of meaningful stimulus. It is frankly shocking that the Chancellor has chosen to bring forward changes in the personal allowance, which have been shown time and again to primarily benefit the rich.
“The Chancellor glibly talks about the need for wage growth and celebrates the reduction in low pay, while failing to grasp that hours are falling and take home pay for the lowest paid has hardly risen. With Universal Credit still in turmoil, this is a Chancellor who simply hasn’t grasped the pressure that has been placed on living standards up and down the country.
“Spending increases for the Scottish Budget are welcome, with the promise of further rises as additional NHS spending comes online. But this will still fall short of what is needed to truly end austerity. We need properly resourced public services and restorative pay rises for public sector workers. In their December Budget, the Scottish Government will need to use their powers to the full to ensure significant investment in public services. The Scottish Government must also ensure that funding for businesses and economic investment is well targeted and delivers tangible impacts that are to the benefit of communities.
“The digital service tax is a welcome commitment with big technology companies simply not paying their way for too long but with a crisis in our high streets and thousands of jobs at risk across the UK this is likely to be too little, too late. The Chancellor seems to have already thrown in the towel on protecting jobs on our high streets with the creation of a transformation fund designed to transform high streets from retail to housing.
“The end of the use of PFI is welcome but we have been here before in Scotland. We will wait to see the detail of any alternative scheme before we cheer too loudly for this commitment.”
“It is a clear sign of the self-inflicted damage to the economy that comes with Brexit that the Chancellor now has to hold aside an additional £500 million in ‘no deal’ contingencies bringing total funds to support Brexit next year to £2 billion. This is topped off with the promise that he will come back to the country in the Spring, for what will no doubt be a renewed round of austerity, in the event of a no deal catastrophe.”