7. To ask the Scottish Government, in light of recently reported warnings by the Bank of England that the United Kingdom is about to enter the longest recession since the 1930s, what assessment it has made of the impact that this could have on its Covid recovery strategy. (S6O-01579)
The current economic landscape presents us with significant challenges. The approach of the United Kingdom Government in cutting public spending risks prolonging that recession, hampering efforts to restore the public finances. There are alternatives to austerity that invest in public services and the economy, including inflationary increases to devolved Governments’ 2022-23 budgets.
It is, unfortunately, inevitable that some of the savings that we need to make will have negative impacts. There are no easy decisions, but we have prioritised help for those who need it most. The Scottish Government remains committed to delivering the actions that are set out in our Covid recovery strategy, and our internal monitoring indicates that the majority of the strategy actions remain complete or on track.
There is no doubt that the war in Ukraine is having a significant impact on economies across the world. However, yesterday, we saw the renewed warnings from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that, next year, as a result of the Tory Government’s disastrous Brexit and shambolic economic policies, the United Kingdom will be the second worst performer of the world’s largest economies. [
.] Does the Deputy First Minister share my concern that, while the economies of countries such as Ireland will grow next year, Scotland can only look on powerless as the UK continues its decline, which has been accelerated by Brexit, making it more difficult to recover from the pandemic?
I am not quite sure why Mr MacDonald’s question, which is based on the substantive analysis of the OECD, was met with groans from the Conservative benches, because now, in the United Kingdom, we are wrestling with the economic consequences of Brexit, which was inflicted on us against our will by the Conservative Government. In September, that was added to by the folly of the mini-budget, which was entirely of Conservative design and will cause significant negative impact for many years to come. In addition, the political inertia of the United Kingdom Government since the revelation of partygate in December last year has resulted in there being no effective functioning domestic government in the UK over that period, and the inflationary pressures that arose from energy cost rises were not interrupted over the course of this summer. Therefore, we are dealing with very acute economic difficulties as a consequence of decisions that have been voluntarily taken by the Conservative Government. The implications are significant.
I will do all that I can to protect people from the effects of the Conservatives’ folly, but I cannot protect people from every aspect of the damage that has been done by the United Kingdom Government.