The coming ten days may be key to defining the future of Scotland, Jackie Baillie will say today.
In a debate in the Scottish Parliament about the future of the oil and gas industry, Scottish Labour will say the publication of Scotland’s accounts on Wednesday and the UK Budget the following week will be key milestones in the nation’s economic future.
On Wednesday the SNP Government will publish Scotland’s annual accounts, which will show how much tax was raised here in the last year compared to the level of public spending. The impact of the plummeting oil price on Scotland’s public finances is expected to become clearer following the publication of Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS).
The SNP’s key General Election plan is full fiscal autonomy for Scotland within the UK, which means Scotland would be responsible for raising all taxes here. This would mean scrapping the extra spending Scotland gets through the Barnett formula and relying on oil for the funding of schools, hospitals and pensions.
A report published today by the Scottish Affairs Committee confirms that full fiscal autonomy would result in a £6.5 billion black hole in Scotland’s budget -; equivalent to more than half of Scotland’s NHS budget.
Scottish Labour will say that next week the Chancellor George Osborne must deliver urgent action in his Budget to secure the long-term investment the North Sea needs.
Scottish Labour Leader Jim Murphy and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls will meet with senior figures from Oil and Gas UK in London today ahead of next week’s Budget.
Scottish Labour’s Shadow Finance Secretary Jackie Baillie will say:
“The coming ten days will tell us so much about Scotland’s economic future. The publication of Scotland’s accounts and the UK Budget next week will be important milestones, particularly for the future of the North Sea.
“The oil industry is a great Scottish success story. It sustains thousands of jobs and is central to our economy. But the plummeting oil price has put jobs at risk and hit our public finances.
“When George Osborne delivers his Budget next week he must take the urgent action needed to attract investment in the North Sea over the long term. If the Tories don’t act, the next Labour Government will. The oil industry is too important to jobs and funding our public services in Scotland to walk by on the other side.
“The publication of Scotland’s accounts this week will show the stark impact of the SNP’s plan for full fiscal autonomy within the UK. Swapping the higher public spending and stability of Barnett for the big spending cuts and reliance on volatile oil prices to pay for schools and hospitals would be a disaster for Scotland.
“Scottish Labour has a better plan for Scotland. We want more powers for Scotland that brings decision making closer to home but keeps the stability of Barnett