Across the nations the message is clear – It’s time for the chancellor to change course

Ahead of the chancellor publishing the Spending Review, the likes of which he never intended to make, across the nations the devolved governments are clear.

Ahead of the chancellor publishing the Spending Review, the likes of which he never intended to make, across the nations the devolved governments are clear.

A joint letter from the finance ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has urged Whitehall to take advantage of current low interest rates by borrowing to increase investment in infrastructure projects.

Declaring that the “evidence is clear”, Welsh finance minister Jane Hutt declared:

“Well chosen public infrastructure investments can have both short term and, more importantly, sustained, long-term benefits for the economy. That is why a key component of our response to the continuing weakness in the UK economy has been concerted action to boost infrastructure investment.

“We have a range of priority infrastructure projects which can be brought forward to make use of additional resources and make a positive contribution to growth in the UK economy.

“We are now urging the UK government to do all in their power to support the work we are undertaking by boosting our capital budgets to allow us to invest in the infrastructure we need to boost growth and create jobs.”

For the SNP meanwhile, its treasury spokesperson in Westminster, Stewart Hosie, has urged the “downgraded” chancellor to look to Scotland as a model to follow.

Speaking of George Osborne’s failure to deliver, Hosie has declared:

“The Comprehensive Spending Review will be the perfect opportunity for this downgraded chancellor to get some desperately needed growth back into the economy. But we know that will not happen. George Osborne has staked the entire reputation of the UK government on aggressive deficit reduction – regardless of the dreadful economic and social cost but he has categorically failed – and on some measures borrowing is actually rising…

“In Scotland, we have lower unemployment than the UK, higher employment, and we now have one of the lowest youth unemployment rates anywhere in the EU…

“If the chancellor and his government spent his time looking at what is happening in Scotland rather than lecturing and scaremongering, perhaps the rest of the UK might see some improvements too.”

In Northern Ireland meanwhile, the Belfast Telegraph has picked up on a UK wide survey by PricewaterhouseCooper which has found that that 37 per cent of people across the country feel there is no need for additional spending cuts over and above those already announced.

Assessing the Northern Ireland aspects of the survey, the paper notes:

“In Northern Ireland, 30 per cent of taxpayers say more cuts aren’t needed.

“However, when it comes to knowing where the money goes, only 17 per cent of Northern Ireland taxpayers say they have an excellent or good understanding of how their tax money is currently spent and a mere 10 per cent say they understand the level of spending cuts that may be necessary to address the current deficit.

“Looking to the future, 40 per cent of Northern Ireland taxpayers expect the local economy to deteriorate further in 2013-14.

“Esmond Birnie, PwC’s chief economist in Northern Ireland, said that despite the expected £11bn cuts, UK taxpayers are not convinced that more austerity is needed.”

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