Argyll and Bute MP attacks Chancellor’s Budget

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Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara (SNP) has attacked Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Budget announced last week.

Mr O’Hara launched a scathing attack on the Chancellor of the Exchequer at Westminster, accusing him of choosing not to end austerity when he had the opportunity and of failing to halt the roll out of Universal Credit until the poorest and most vulnerable were protected.

He also accused the Chancellor’s Budget of not being capable of withstanding the challenges of Brexit with the expectation of a ‘fiscal event’ triggering budgetary interventions in early 2019.

Mr O’Hara has repeated his view that 10 years on from the financial crash, the UK government is continuing to balance the books on the backs of the poorest in society, with household budgets facing yet further constraints due to Brexit.

Mr O’Hara said: “Not one of us can trust or believe a single word we heard from the Chancellor, this Budget is little more than a ‘wish list’ cobbled together by someone seriously lacking in ambition and with the strong possibility that neither the PM or Chancellor will be in post when the Budget takes effect, what do they have to lose?

“Ten years of austerity and the Scottish resource block grant is down £2 billion in 2019/20 compared to 2010/11, a fact no one can dispute.

“Roughly translated, Scotland’s block grant has been hit by 6.9 per cent in cuts by the Tory government since 2010. These cuts affect each and every one of us. There is no doubt this Tory government is making Scotland worse off, and after Brexit, even if the UK signs a free trade agreement with the EU, this will mean Scotland’s GDP will be 6.1 per cent, or £1,610 per person, lower by 2030.

“Instead of halting Universal Credit – the Chancellor has only applied a sticking plaster to a system that is failing the weakest and the most vulnerable in our society.

“This Chancellor has failed to introduce a real Living Wage, failed to lift the benefits freeze, failed to scrap the two-child cap, failed to abolish the bedroom tax, failed to halt Universal Credit and failed to give fairness to the thousands of WASPI women across Argyll and Bute who have lost their pensions.

“Worse still, with the UK Government’s failure to match fund the Tayside deal, undercutting the Scottish Government pledge by £50m, I’m now seriously concerned about the prospects for Argyll and Bute’s rural growth deal.”

An HM Treasury spokesman said: “Scotland will benefit from nearly £1 billion in additional funding for the Scottish Government, as well as a freeze in Spirits Duty.

“This year’s Budget is a result of the UK government’s balanced approach to the country’s finances, keeping taxes low and debt falling.”