NO CAUSE FOR “OPTIMISM” AFTER BUDGET

In my response to the Chancellor’s budget, I pointed out that the claims of levelling-up for all and a “new age of optimism” are hollow and insensitive to my constituents in North Ayrshire & Arran - and so many others - who are facing a growing cost of living crisis.

The UK is set to suffer the worst economic damage from Covid19 of any G20 country, while ordinary citizens face tax rises and inflation is set to top 4%. The Chancellor had nothing to offer households already squeezed by rising food and fuel prices, as labour shortages continue to hammer business and consumers, but managed to cut taxes on bank profits.

The decision to abandon the State Pension triple-lock will cost pensioners an average of £520 next year and will continue the trend of rising pensioner poverty, while the budget did not reverse the £20 per week cut to Universal Credit or offer anything to the over 3 million people whose disability, illness or caring responsibilities mean they can’t work.

The Scottish Parliament will receive less grant funding in each of the next five years than in this one, despite the continuing challenges posed by Covid19 and the economic recovery. As the Tories continue to make insensitive and hollow claims of levelling-up while ordinary households are squeezed further and further, the ambition for Scotland to make its own choices will only grow.

Watch my speech below.