Budget Resolutions - Income Tax (Charge)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:07 pm on 31st October 2018.

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Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 2:07 pm, 31st October 2018

The hon. Gentleman says nothing about productivity levels in Scotland, which continually outstrip those of the UK.

The Institute of Directors and the SNP made a demand for a small and medium-sized enterprises support line to help them deal with Brexit. The Chancellor also failed to deliver that. Meanwhile, in Scotland, the Scottish Government help business with a £96 million investment to deliver the most attractive business rates package throughout the nations of the UK. Already, more than 100,000 businesses in Scotland pay no rates at all through the small business bonus scheme. Significantly, the Scottish Government are setting aside resources of £340 million to provide capitalisation for the Scottish national investment bank.

I wanted to talk about much more, but I shall cut a lot out to aid the process today. Before I finish, however, I want to cover the fair treatment of workers. Westminster has failed to end wage discrimination and give young people the real living wage. Young people are used to being short-changed by this Tory Government, as are those whose rights are infringed by the gig economy and unpaid-work trials. In the SNP, we believe that a fair day’s work should result in a fair day’s pay.

Contrast the Chancellor’s failure with the success of the Scottish Government’s real living wage accreditation scheme, ensuring that more than 1,000 employers now pay the real living wage and that, as a result, nearly 82% of workers in Scotland are earning it—the highest level in the nations of the UK. Imagine what more we could do if we had the power in Scotland to do so? In the meantime, the UK Government must stop ducking their responsibilities on pay. These measures are not only about doing the right and fair thing; they aid the economy by increasing productivity and boosting revenue through tax takes to spend on services. If the Government will not live up to their responsibilities for fair pay, fair conditions and young people, we should have the power in Scotland to do so ourselves.

I shall end on two things. First, in city deals around Scotland, the UK Government have fallen nearly £400 million short of the Scottish Government’s investment—so much for the 50:50 partnership. The Chancellor came up £50 million short on the Tay region deal and failed to confirm 100% coverage of Scotland, as promised by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury—good at making promises, bad at keeping them. But of course that is nothing new. We saw that in the highlands with the Inverness and Highland city region deal, where the UK Government put in only about 20% of the funding—their £53 million dwarfed by the Scottish Government’s £135 million.

Healthy economies need healthy communities. This week’s Budget had one massive failure. That was the failure to deal effectively with the problem that is universal credit. It should have been halted, fixed and properly funded. Instead, like everything else, it only got lip service. After five and a half years, since the pilot to full roll-out in the highlands, we have seen the misery that people have had to endure. Despite all the begging, cajoling, demanding and asking of Government to listen, they failed to do so. They have made promises to people that they were unwilling to keep. It is about time that the Government took responsibility and sorted that out.