JOHN Swinney has described the UK Government’s Spring Budget statement as “another missed opportunity” to help households, businesses and public services.

The Deputy First Minister welcomed a number of the measures announced by Jeremy Hunt, including the extension of the energy price guarantee.

However, he said the Chancellor should have taken the opportunity to "inflation-proof" the Scottish Government’s budget.


According to the Scotland Office, the Barnett consequential from Mr Hunt's spending commitments will generate an additional £320m in Barnett consequentials over 2023-24 and 2024-25.

The Chancellor also announced £8.6m for Edinburgh's festivals, and more than £1m for five new vital community ownership projects, investment in Scotland's high tech sector, and at least one investment zone. 

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Responding to the budget, Mr Swinney - who is covering the maternity leave of SNP leadership hopeful Kate Forbes - said: “This UK Budget is another missed opportunity to take meaningful action to lift families out of poverty, invest in our public services and help businesses so that our economy can grow.

“Instead, the UK Government should have taken more substantive action to increase the Scottish Government’s budget so we can better align spending and deliver for people and organisations right across Scotland.

“While reversal of the planned increase in the energy price guarantee is welcome, with the end of the energy bills support payments, average household monthly bills will still rise by almost a third in April, at a time when wholesale energy costs are falling.

“Rising interest rates combined with reduced support means some people are expected to experience a larger fall in living standards this coming year than they have over the last 12 months.

“An uplift on Universal Credit and extending this to legacy benefits would have made a meaningful difference to households struggling to make ends meet."

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Mr Swinney said the additional money was welcome but warned it would "not go far enough and in the long-term our capital funding will fall in real-terms."

He added: "Without extra funding, we will have to find money from within the Scottish Budget to invest in public services, provide fair pay rises and help people with the cost of living.

“The Scottish Government is doing what it can with its limited powers to ensure people receive the help they need, but the UK Government’s could have done far more to ease the burden affecting so many, demonstrating yet again why Scotland needs the powers of independence.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack disagreed. He said: “Today the Chancellor has set out a Budget which continues cost of living support and will deliver sustainable, long-term growth, helping us halve inflation and reduce our national debt.  

“Maintaining the Energy Price Guarantee until June will save the average family £160 a year and gives certainty over their bills until summer. We’ve also made changes to Universal Credit to help people get back to work.  

“Other UK Government direct investment in Scotland includes £8.6 million for Edinburgh's world-class festivals, more than £1 million for five new vital community ownership projects, and investment in Scotland's innovative high tech sector. 

"The Chancellor has also confirmed there will be Investment Zones in all parts of the UK, building on Scotland’s two new Freeports."