Chancellor says he gets ‘little thanks’ for money Scotland gets from UK
Philip Hammond responded to criticism from SNP economy spokeswoman Kirsty Blackman on Government spending.
Chancellor Philip Hammond has insisted that Scotland “gets it share” of UK spending – but complained he gets “precious little thanks” from the SNP for it.
The Tory hit back after being challenged by SNP economy spokeswoman Kirsty Blackman, who insisted Scotland had been “badly served by consecutive Westminster governments”.
She demanded Mr Hammond ensure that Scotland gets an appropriate share of new funding announced in the Chancellor’s Spring Statement.
But he told her: “Scotland gets its share of the increased spending on both capital and resource, but precious little thanks we ever hear from those benches in exchange for it.”
From 2010/11 to 2019/20 Scotland’s resource block grant has been cut by nearly £2 billion in real terms. https://t.co/uJTItkcyH2— Kirsty Blackman (@KirstySNP) March 13, 2019
Mr Hammond used his statement to the House of Commons to announce £260 million of UK Government funding for the Borderlands Growth Deal.
The cash, which comes on top of £85 million of Scottish Government cash for the project, will be split between areas in the north of England and the south of Scotland.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell described that as “absolutely fantastic news for the region”.
He said: “This exciting deal will boost economic growth by helping existing business, encouraging new ventures and bringing a wealth of improvements to people who live and work in the area and to visitors.
“It is an ambitious approach to cross-border working between Governments, local authorities and partners and I’m confident that together we can create jobs and opportunity and bring investment.”
Great news: Chancellor confirms UK Govt £260 million contribution to #Borderlands Growth Deal. With @scotgov that delivers £345million investment. Won’t get much attention today, but transformational long term for our communities across the #Borderlands— David Mundell (@DavidMundellDCT) March 13, 2019
In addition to the Borderlands funding, Mr Hammond announced the UK will provide £79 million for a new national supercomputer at Edinburgh University.
He said: “I’m told that it is up to five times faster than the current generation of supercomputers, capable of a staggering ten thousand trillion calculations per second.”
And he quipped: “I’m told with the right algorithms it might even be able to come up with a solution to the backstop.”
While the Chancellor said he was “confident” of a Brexit deal, he warned MPs of the possible impact of leaving the European Union with no deal in place.
He stated: “Leaving with no deal would mean significant disruption in the short and medium term, and a smaller, less prosperous economy in the long term than if we leave with a deal.”
This he added would result in “higher unemployment, lower wages and higher prices in the shops”.
But with the UK’s EU departure looming, Ms Blackman said: “The Chancellor should have delivered an emergency budget today to end austerity, reverse the cuts to Scotland’s budget, and deliver real investment – to mitigate against the damage the Tories are doing by pushing the UK off the Brexit cliff edge.”
She insisted that those in Scotland “need to take our lifeboat and get off this sinking Brexit ship”.
Meanwhile, Scottish public finance minister Kate Fornes said: “While it is welcome that the Chancellor recognises the strategic importance of Edinburgh University and the need to invest in the Borderlands deal, there is much more that could have been delivered today.
“It is disappointing that the Chancellor failed to guarantee that all future EU funding to Scotland – worth over £5 billion in this current EU budget round – will be replaced in full.
“The best decision the UK Government could take for Scotland’s economy and our public finances would be to rule out ‘no deal’, to extend Article 50 and to let the people vote against this deeply damaging EU exit.”