Investment in a “technological revolution” expected to be announced in the budget

Increases in National Insurance contributions announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond are causing concern in the Highlands and Islands.

The chancellor is expected to announce that Britain is at the forefront of a technological revolution in the Budget today.

Philip Hammond is also expected to make announcements relating to the oil industry and reveal VAT exemption plans for Scottish police and fire services and he may inch closer towards a growth deal for Moray.

But the central plank of the chancellor’s autumn budget will set out how the country’s academics and business sectors are at the forefront of innovation.

He is expected to say: “For the first time in decades, Britain is genuinely at the forefront of a technological revolution, not just in our universities and research institutes, but this time in the commercial development labs of our great companies and on the factory floors and business parks across the land.

“So we must invest to secure a bright future for Britain, and at this Budget that is what we choose to do.”

Mr Hammond will also set out his vision for Global Britain as “an outward looking, free-trading nation, a force for good in the world, a country fit for the future” in the context of Brexit.

Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the chancellor must make announcements to support economic growth in the wake of continued Brexit uncertainty, as well as set out measures to protect households from further austerity.

He said: “The Scottish Government remains resolute in our opposition to the UK Government’s austerity agenda which disproportionately hurts the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

“The chancellor must meet key tests in his autumn budget to repair some of this damage, to recognise the serious challenges we are facing as a result of Brexit and to bring forward substantial measures to boost the economy and ease the pressure on the public sector and those who work in it.

“Mr Hammond must reverse his plans to cut an additional £3.5 billion, halt his £600 million reduction for Scotland’s railways and finally address the issue of police and fire VAT that has cost Scotland’s emergency services £140 million to date.

“I have provided a consistent and comprehensive case for a better settlement for Scotland, and expect the chancellor to respond positively.”