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Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement offers ‘no clarity’ for Scotland

Kate Forbes MSP
Kate Forbes MSP

Scotland’s Public Finance Minister Kate Forbes last night claimed the Chancellor’s Spring Statement offers “no clarity” on funding for Scotland.

Ms Forbes said Philip Hammond’s Scottish announcements were a “drop in the ocean” compared with the harm of EU exit.

Responding on behalf of the Scottish Government, Ms Forbes acknowledged the £65 million cash for the south of Scotland as well as £79m for a new national computer system at Edinburgh University.

But she said Mr Hammond should have delivered much more for Scotland.

The extra cash for the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway is part of a £260m Borderlands Growth package that also covers the north of England.

The computer cash is part of a drive to create a  super-computer system that will be several times quicker than the UK’s current capabilities.

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Ms Forbes, Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP, said: “While it is welcome that the chancellor recognises the strategic importance of Edinburgh University and the need to invest in the Borderlands deal, there is much more that could have been delivered.

“It is disappointing that the chancellor failed to guarantee that all future EU funding to Scotland – worth over £5 billion in this current EU budget round – will be replaced in full.

“The plans he set out today will be a drop in the ocean compared to the harm that EU exit will cause, with business investment already falling and growth expected to slow.”

Ms Forbes said EU exit would result in a fall in income per head of around £1,600, a potential shrinking of Scotland’s economy by up to 7%, a drop in exports by up to 20% and reduced business investment by £1 billion in 2019.

In the House of Commons, Mr Hammond was challenged by the SNP who claimed Scotland had been badly served by Westminster.

He responded, saying: “Scotland gets its share of the increased spending on both capital and resource, but precious little thanks we ever hear from those (SNP) benches in exchange for it.”

Mr Hammond defended the UK’s Government on Scotland by referring to the Borderland money and the new super-computer.

He said the super-computer would be “up to five times faster than the current generation of supercomputers, capable of a staggering ten thousand trillion calculations per second.”

And he quipped: “I’m told with the right algorithms it might even be able to come up with a solution to the backstop.”

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