STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith said:
“The central idea in the budget, an investment led Plan B for Scotland, chimes closely with STUC priorities and stands in stark contrast to the growth busting austerity of the Westminster Coalition.
“Using local authority borrowing capacity to invest in infrastructure is a sound idea in principle and can add much needed demand into the Scottish economy. But it has to be taken forward in partnership with local authorities. Transferring existing revenue spend to capital is less welcome – a ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ exercise which will not add to aggregate demand and will further impact on public service provision. This approach also threatens to exacerbate rising unemployment amongst women.
“Other positive announcements today include the levy on alcohol and smoking retail outlets to fund preventative public service spending, securing investment in apprenticeships through the procurement process and the minimum income for students.
“The big minus is the Mr Swinney’s treatment of public service workers. Having criticised the UK Government for combining a pay freeze with a pension contributions cash-grab, Mr Swinney has proceeded to take the same path in Scotland. And having praised public service workers yesterday for achieving £2.2 billion in ‘efficiency savings’, he has today imposed a similar requirement for the coming period but offered nothing in return. This approach is not only unfair, it will exert a significant drag on an already weak economy.
“The STUC will try to play a positive role in achieving sustainable long-term public service improvement as recommended by the Christie Commission but a further real terms pay cut and increasing pension contributions is not a good starting point.
“As the Council Tax freeze continues to add to the woes of local government and threaten jobs and services, it really is appalling that the government is persisting with the wholly ineffective and wasteful Small Business Bonus Scheme; an expensive initiative that has not created one single job”.
For further information contact Dave Moxham or Stephen Boyd 0141 337 8100