Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Economic Update

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 9th July 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Kate Forbes Kate Forbes Scottish National Party

On the money that we have set aside for economic recovery, we have already taken the early steps that I set out in my statement to ensure that any capital underspend is recycled in order to provide jobs. As Jackie Baillie will know, there is already significant investment through our budget, with £2.3 billion for the initial response for businesses.

However, the challenge, and the reason why yesterday was incredibly frustrating, is that, as Jackie Baillie knows full well, in order to provide additional support, the primary source of additional finance for the Scottish Government is through UK Government consequentials. For all the talk of £800 million, which is warmly welcomed, it is largely for personal protective equipment and funding announcements that have already been made. There is only £21 million of additional resource from the economic stimulus package. We will use every penny of that to continue to invest in the economy but, until there is additional support, it will be difficult to do that, and we will have one hand tied behind our back. Of course, if we had more significant borrowing powers, that would be much easier.

On LBTT, we will move incredibly fast. It is not a problem with the Scottish ministers—we will move quickly. However, there is a legislative process to go through, and Revenue Scotland needs to be ready so that the change can be introduced effectively and efficiently. We will move very quickly. I cannot give a precise date just now, and I do not think that it would be particularly helpful to do so, given the issues of uncertainty in the market.

On youth unemployment, we are aware that we will need to do far more. Next week, the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture will set out a far more comprehensive and detailed package of policies to protect jobs and support people to get back into work. There will be significant detail in there.

I agree with Jackie Baillie that much more is needed. As I look across the budget, the challenge is to ensure that we free up any headroom that is available—there is not much—to have that singular focus on protecting and creating jobs.