By Bob Duncan
UK Chancellor George Osborne must use his Autumn budget statement to finally boost growth in the economy, say the SNP.
Ahead of George Osborne’s autumn statement next Thursday, the SNP has once more called on the UK Chancellor to target capital investment into shovel-ready projects to get the economy growing.
Reports this week have claimed that the long-term lack of economic growth has sparked a new round of cabinet infighting, as George Osborne has sought to divert the blame for his failure to secure sustained economic recovery.
Mr Osborne challenged colleagues at Friday’s Cabinet meeting to explain why they are not 100 per cent focused on getting the economy moving. In a sign of his unease at the state of the economy ahead of his mini-Budget next week, he warned that too many Westminster departments think they do not have responsibility for jobs and growth.
David Cameron also attacked his fellow ministers during the weekly Cabinet meeting on Thursday, complaining about slow progress in delivering major transport and broadband projects.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said in the Commons: ‘They were at each other like rats in a sack.’
On Thursday the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) downgraded its forecast for growth in the UK. In May it had predicted the economy would grow by 1.9 per cent in 2013 but now it thinks it will only expand by 1 per cent.
Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King also warned of ‘a slow and protracted recovery’, while the Office for National Statistics has confirmed that the UK economy grew by 1 per cent over the summer 2012.
Finance Secretary John Swinney has written to George Osborne calling on him to deliver economic stimulus through capital investment following widespread predictions that GDP growth remains relatively flat.
The Finance Secretary’s letter also called for a rise in fuel duty to be postponed, argued that Air Passenger Duty must be devolved and provided an updated list of shovel-ready projects that could be delivered before the end of 2013/14, providing swift opportunities to create jobs and growth.
SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald, who sits on the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee said:
“George Osborne’s stubborn refusal to act has gone on far too long. He must use his long-delayed autumn budget statement to target investment into the shovel-ready projects that can provide a swift boost to economic growth.
“Warning after warning has been presented to George Osborne that he is on the wrong track and destroying jobs and household budgets as a result. He simply cannot duck responsibility for what are the direct consequences of his actions.
“Enough is enough. People across Scotland are crying out for action and we simply cannot continue with a situation where George Osborne’s pride is holding back economic recovery.
“Instead of being dependent on a Westminster Chancellor to make these choices, decisions on Scotland’s economy should be made by people in Scotland who by definition have the greatest stake in growing our economy.
“Only a Yes vote in 2014 for an independent Scotland will secure that responsibility and allow us to build upon the progress that has already been secured by Scotland’s parliament.”