Today in the debate on the Scottish budget, I set out that this SNP budget should have been a budget for economic growth, should have addressed the issue of productivity in the workforce and should have acted to reverse the worrying decline in business investment.
That is why the message from every business organisation in advance of the budget was the same: do not increase the tax burden. The Federation of Small Businesses, the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, the Confederation of British Industry in Scotland, Scottish Engineering and the Scottish Retail Consortium all warned that taking money out of people’s pockets and reducing consumer spending at a time when we need to kick-start economic growth is not the way to go.
However, instead of listening to leading business organisations and economic commentators, the SNP have decided to follow the economic advice of the Green party in order to keep that shaky pro-independence alliance together.
As a result, we have a budget which punishes 1 million taxpayers across Scotland who will now pay more tax than if they lived in the rest of the UK. Simply put increasing tax will result in lower disposable incomes which will in turn depress spending on the high-street and lead to negative multiplier effects on consumption and spending.
A budget which will see productivity in the Scottish economy continue to struggle. Central to the question of how we grow the economy is to do something to boost productivity –the contribution people make per hour worked to the economic engine of the country. However, productivity under the SNP has now declined to its lowest level in Scotland for eight years and is well-below levels in the rest of the UK.
A budget that not only doesn't address the lack of business investment but actually takes money out of the economy with damaging tax rises.
Scots will now have to pay more to get less, and that is why it is a budget which did not get my support.