The Scottish Conservatives have today hailed the UK Chancellor’s budget as “great news” for hard-pressed families in Scotland.
Shadow finance and economy secretary Liz Smith said Jeremy Hunt’s statement managed to support vulnerable people and encourage economic growth.
And she urged the SNP Government to match his commitment to roll out 30 hours of free childcare to parents of all one and two-year-olds south of the border.
The spending pledges announced by the Chancellor will generate an extra £320million over two years – in so-called Barnett Consequentials – for the Scottish Government to spend. Liz Smith urged SNP ministers to pass this on in full to deliver on relevant commitments.
But, even before the spending increases, Scots will benefit immediately from the following key measures announced by the Chancellor:
- An extension to the Energy Price Cap, which will save the typical household £160 this year
- An end to the premium paid by those on pre-payment meters by adjusting the energy price guarantee
- A freeze in fuel duty, which will save the average driver £100 this year
- An increase in Universal Credit childcare payments for parents
Scottish Conservative shadow finance and economy secretary Liz Smith MSP said: “Jeremy Hunt has delivered a budget for growth and stability which is great news for hard-pressed Scottish families.
“The extension of the energy price cap and the fuel duty freeze provide welcome relief for all Scots, while there’s vital support for those feeling the squeeze most with the announcements on pre-payment meters and Universal Credit.
“The move towards 30 hours of free childcare for one and two-year-olds is a huge boost for families and the economy – and it’s essential that the SNP Government follow suit on this now they’ve been given the funding.
“The cost of childcare is a major impediment to new parents returning to work, so this measure will really stimulate economic growth.
“Scotland has also benefited from the targeted spending announced by the Chancellor, not least the £8.6million earmarked for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
“All in all, this is a welcome package for Scots. SNP ministers must pass on the Barnett Consequentials the budget has generated, so that Scots enjoy the full benefits of it.”
Jeremy Hunt has extended the energy price guarantee providing greater security for families across the country. The Energy Price Guarantee will be kept at £2,500 for an additional three months saving the typical household £160. While energy prices are 50% lower than forecast in October, they remain high and this support will bridge the gap to the lower prices forecast in June. (UK Spring Budget 2023, 15 March 2023, link)
The UK Government are ending the premium paid by over four million households using prepayment meters. The UK Government will ensure those who have prepayment meters no longer pay a premium for their energy by adjusting the Energy Price Guarantee from 1 July 2023, saving customers £45 a year on their energy bills. (UK Spring Budget 2023, 15 March 2023, link)
The UK Government are increasing the Universal Credit childcare payments. They will also increase support for those parents on Universal Credit by increasing the Universal Credit childcare maximum amounts to £950.92 for one child and £1,630.15 for two children. (UK Spring Budget 2023, 15 March 2023, link)
The UK Government will spend £5 billion maintaining the freeze in fuel duty and the 5p cut for another year. The cut to fuel duty announced last year will be extended for a further year and fuel duty will be frozen saving drivers another £100 this year. (UK Spring Budget 2023, 15 March 2023, link)
The UK Government are providing an additional £8.6 million for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The government will provide up to £8.6 million for Scotland’s festival economy. Funding could help build a permanent headquarters for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and create year-round opportunities for local artists and talent across Edinburgh festivals. This will boost Scotland’s festival economy, which contributes over £300 million a year to Scotland. (UK Spring Budget 2023, 15 March 2023, link)