This week in Scotland
Once again this week has been dominated by Westminster politics. The Chancellor announced the date of the Spending Review and the UK Government succeeded in negotiating the first parliamentary hurdle for its controversial welfare proposals.
Austerity to continue
The UK Government has confirmed that it is looking for a further £20 billion of savings by 2020 in its next Spending Review. This means that unprotected departments – everything but the NHS, schools and international development – could be in line to lose up to 40% of their funding.
Although the Treasury refused to put a figure on the cut to the Scottish block grant – currently worth around £30 billion – the move is likely to mean an estimated direct cut in funding of around £1.5 billion. However, this will almost certainly be reduced to around £1 billion when Scotland receives its full share of UK health and schools cash. Unsurprisingly, the Scottish Government has once again called on the UK Government to move away from its austerity agenda.
The Spending Review, will be published on 25th November and aims to outline how the UK Government will invest in public services while also looking to eliminate the UK’s budget deficit by 2019-20.
The SNP has claimed that Labour’s decision to largely abstain from a vote on the UK Government’s proposed welfare cuts will “haunt Labour through next year’s Scottish Parliament election and far beyond. The prediction came after the UK Government’s plans to cut a further £12 billion from the welfare budget passed its first parliamentary hurdle this week with only 48 of Labour’s 232 MPs voting against the proposals. The SNP voted against the proposals, which led them to cheekily ask the Commons Speaker whether they could become the official opposition as a result.
The UK Government’s proposals would see the welfare cap reduced from £26,000 to £23,000, abolish the legally binding child poverty targets, cut child tax credits, employment support allowance, and housing benefit for young people.
Tony Blair and “caveman” politics
Speaking during an appearance at the centre-left Progress think-tank, former Prime Minister branded the SNP as a “reactionary political force” with an ideology similar to that of “cavemen”. The comments came as the former PM called on his party to take the ideology of nationalism head on before accusing the SNP of blaming all and sundry for Scotland’s problems.