Scotland’s Finance Secretary has urged the Chancellor to scrap planned tax credit cuts when he delivers his Autumn Statement this week.
In a letter to George Osborne, John Swinney insisted the UK Government can no longer ignore “the growing opposition to their austerity programme”.
The Perthshire North MSP claimed cuts of £12 billion to welfare and potential cuts of around £20 billion to public services by 2019-20 went beyond what is necessary to balance the budget.
He said: “With growing opposition on both sides of the border to the UK Government’s plan for further cuts to public services and social security, and the subsequent impact that will have on families across the country, I have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer urging him to change course and relax his fiscal mandate.
“I remain extremely concerned over planned tax credit cuts. Such cuts are unacceptable, not only do they cut the incomes of working families across Scotland, on average £1,500 each, but will damage work incentives and inhibit future economic growth.”
During an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Mr Osborne would not be drawn on what measures he will bring forward on Wednesday to mitigate the impact on millions of working families of his proposed £4.3 billion cut to tax credits after it was thrown out by the House of Lords.
He said he would give his response to “perfectly legitimate concerns” that low-paid households would suffer dramatic cuts in welfare but insisted election promises to slash £12 billion from the welfare budget remained on track.
The Chancellor also confirmed he has now finalised deals with all Whitehall spending departments ahead of setting out what is expected to be a harsh squeeze on budgets in the spending review at Westminster.
Mr Osborne played down reports of bitter rows within the cabinet over the depth of cuts including a reported threat to resign by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith insisting deals had been reached “amicably”.
Labour’s shadow business secretary Angela Eagle warned the plans would harm public services. She said: “There are some dire warnings today which I think the Chancellor ought to heed.”