Scottish recovery stalls as Minister admits Wales will be worst hit by cuts

Official figures have revealed that the Scottish economy achieved no growth in the first three months of this year, having increased by 0.3% during the final 3 months of last year.

Official figures have revealed that the Scottish economy achieved no growth in the first three months of this year, having increased by 0.3 per cent during the final 3 months of last year.

Responding to the latest news, finance secretary John Swinney commented:

“Clearly Scotland’s different economic cycle and stronger past performance means that there is a lagging effect in terms of recovery – and the severe winter weather will undoubtedly have impacted on key parts of the economy at the beginning of the year.

“Building a strong and sustained recovery is our priority – and the fragility of the situation confirms that the UK Government is risking recovery by cutting too quickly too deeply, and that the Scottish Government was correct to defer further Westminster cuts to next year in order to support economic activity and employment now.”

The news will come as a mild embarrassment after Swinney sought to talk up the action taken by the SNP to secure the recovery, following news just a day before that the recession itself had been less severe in Scotland than the UK as a whole.

Unsurprisingly, opposition parties were quick to condemn the SNP Government for having failed to properly secure the recovery. For the Conservatives, finance spokesman, Derek Brownlee commented:

These figures confirm that the recovery in Scotland is at an earlier and more fragile stage than elsewhere in the UK, and emphasise the need for both the UK and Scottish governments to work together to help the private sector create new jobs.”

And for the Liberal Democrats, Jeremy Purvis declared:

“The fact is there is now a chasm between SNP rhetoric and the lack of any meaningful economic policy from their government.”

While Labour simply concluded that the stagnation was a sign of failed SNP policies.

In a clear attack, however, on George Osborne’s plans to cut capital spending, Michael Levack, chief executive of the Scottish Building Federation, has warned:

“If these first tentative signs are to have any chance of translating into a sustainable recovery, public capital investment budgets will need to be protected and more will need to be done to inject life back into private sector housebuilding and commercial and industrial construction work.”

Meanwhile, following her first appearance before the Welsh Affairs select committee, Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan admitted that Wales would be worst hit by the C0alition’s budget cuts, telling MPs:

“There is an acceptance across government that there could be a disproportionate effect on Wales and therefore in budget discussions we are looking at the impact on the Welsh budget.”

Following the meeting, Labour’s MP for Swansea West, Geraint Davies, called on Gillan to fight for extra funding for Wales. He concluded:

“The Secretary of State has now confirmed that Welsh families will be much worse off because of this Budget than elsewhere in the UK.

“She therefore has the responsibility to fight for extra grant funding for the Welsh Assembly Government to take this into account, as well as looking at long-term funding for the country.”

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