THE Auditor General is warning that SNP ministers have been too slow to react to financial pressures ("Warning SNP government faces bursting its budget", The Herald, November 17). Kate Forbes warned that the public sector required reshaping with staff levels and the number of quangos needing to be reduced. John Swinney would have been aware of this warning when he stepped in to cover Ms Forbes’ maternity leave but nothing has been done.

The Deputy First Minister has announced £600 million in budget cuts, with £400m of that being in health and social care. This is a political choice. The SNP has increased the number of quangos by a third in the last 10 years, with the cost of government increasing from £2bn to £4.5bn. This SNP Government continues to spend £9m on overseas offices that duplicate the work of British embassies. It spends £20m on constitutional issues, having used at least 20 civil service staff to produce the first of its series of papers campaigning for independence.

The SNP would rather cut the money spent on the nation’s health than cut the number of spin doctors, which has risen from 115 to 176 in the last four years, costing us around £4m a year. Unless the SNP starts to realise that we all have to cut our coat to suit our cloth next year’s budget would be reduced by any overspend, perpetuating the issue. The SNP needs to wake up to the fact that the current economic situation requires it to make tough choices and it needs to make them now. Maybe it could start with some of the examples above.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.


IT’S been somewhat underwhelming listening to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and it reinforces my view that these people live on a different planet from the mainstream populace in this country.

To watch backbenchers reacting to the statement by braying like donkeys and clapping like seals is frankly not possible to politely comment on.

After 12 years of Tory rule, the Chancellor finally accepts that the UK is in a recession when the rest of us have known this for some considerable time. He has done nothing to improve things.

He talks of making the UK another Silicon Valley and all these innovative areas such as developing 5G when the country is on its knees. Whilst telling all departments to tighten their belts, he announced that the Government is to proceed with HS2 – the multi-billion-pound project already wildly over budget and which will produce a disproportionate benefit for just a select few.

Once again it’s not 12 years of Tory misrule nor the £30 billion trashed by his predecessor in as many days that is getting the blame. Nor is the carnage brought about by Brexit. Once again the perceived benefits of Brexit – if they ever materialise – are being pushed back another couple of years.

Under this Tory Government the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

One year ago, one in five adults in the UK had savings of £100 or less. That figure is now one in four. The situation is deplorable and utterly indefensible.

Yet a few still have the audacity to try and tell us we would be poorer in an independent Scotland. How poor do we need to be?

Stewart Falconer, Alyth.


A PERSON must be big enough to admit their mistakes and strong enough to correct them.

Every disaster that was predicted to befall an independent Scotland has come true as part of the UK and surely Jeremy Hunt’s Budget, the reasoning behind it and the OBR’s forecast of a seven per cent fall in living standards drive a stake through the heart of any argument to vote No next time.

Independence may not bring us closer to paradise but perhaps those who were persuaded to remain in 2014 should follow Mae West’s advice who, when faced with two evils always picked the one she had never tried before?

Alan Carmichael, Glasgow.


SO the Chancellor has announced the state pension will rise next year by the rate of inflation (10.1 % on the usual calculation). Jeremy Hunt pronounced this would mean a rise of £870 to the claimant.

It seems (amongst everything else that is wrong with the incumbent Government) that we now have a Chancellor who cannot count.

At the present rate of state pension a 10.1 % increase would mean well over £900 increase.

The Government is a total shambles.

Alan Barbour, Edinburgh.


AT the start of her response to Jeremy Hunt's Autumn Statement shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves gave the stern warning that his measures mean working people face "cancelled holidays, sleepless nights and hopes for the future dashed".

That sounds miles better than her and most politicians' previous stern warnings that people are having to decide between feeding their families and turning the heating on. Does she secretly agree with his Budget?

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.


I NOTE the letter from Robert IG Scott (November 17) .

Does it ever cross people's minds that the "subsidies" to Scotland are a sign of economic weakness of the UK and not a strength?

Taxes from London are used to service debt and to help pay for retained UK matters, some of which is back-charged to Scotland (note: very little of this money makes its way to Scotland).

London and the South-East is the only UK economic region to run a surplus because the UK Government has become utterly reliant on its taxes. So London gets most of the investment, while all other regions are under-developed through under-investment. Nothing must bust the London bubble.

Does Mr Scott ever wonder how Scotland, with its huge natural resources, doesn't have enough high-tax payers to pay for its public services?

Iain Cope, Glasgow.


I HEARD Michael Gove explaining that the failure to meet his housing target was due to the global shortage of materials. In fact the shortages started with Brexit, which he supported (he was one of the few Scots who supported the Leave campaign ).

Now the UK has the lowest growth rate of the richest countries and an exchange rate which has fallen to a steady low. For those not in financial straits it is still cheaper to go abroad for holidays than to vacation in Britain. God help our tourist industry. How can anyone claim that Brexit was not a mistake?

English voters are still in denial about Brexit and your steady stream of SNP bashers carefully omit Brexit in their lists of Scottish woes. The Tories are relying on Covid and the Ukraine war to act as a smokescreen to hide one almighty error.

JB Drummond, Kilmarnock.


ROBERT McNab's letter on the Arran ferry shambles (November 16) asks why English taxpayers aren't asking what has happened to "their" money. The reason for that is simple. The money wasted on the ferry contract is too small to matter compared to the tens of billions Westminster has squandered on HS2, the non-existent Covid Test and Trace scheme, Crossrail, aircraft carriers with no aircraft, Trussonomics and more. Nobody on either side of the Border seems to be concerned about any of those fiascos.

Jim Morrow, Glasgow.


ONCE again the Scottish Government is being attacked over its policy of getting rid of nuclear weapons for when it gains its independence. The news that the UK Government has awarded a contract for five warships to the Clyde is trumpeted as a wonderful boost to Scotland and Glasgow in particular ("Prime Minister awards £4.2bn contract to build five warships on the Clyde", The Herald, November 16). Alexander McKay (Letters, November 16) suggests we are going to be oh so safe with our warships and our nuclear weapons and to think otherwise is to "live on another planet". Well maybe we will have to if ever nuclear weapons are used. This one will no longer exist.

Doesn’t he know that Hiroshima and Nagasaki in particular were Japanese military bases and targeted as such? Every enemy will use the excuse of attack on such places as prevention in order to justify their actions.

Meanwhile the poor old Arran ferries chug along and the "beleaguered people of Arran" (Letters, November 16) appeal for help. A little of the £4.2bn would not go amiss if redirected to civilian vessels that bring joy to the population that warships and submarines can never do.

Susan Martin, Glasgow.

Read more: Best hunker down as Tories return to the mistakes of 2010