New Scottish Labour leader brands the chancellor’s Budget a failure

Richard Leonard

New Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard branded the chancellor’s Autumn Budget a failure – and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said Britain had plunged “deep in the relegation zone”.

Mr Leonard, speaking just days after taking the top job in Scottish Labour, said: “Today the chancellor delivered a failing budget, on a failing economy from a failing government.

“They are rudderless and without a plan to grow our economy, help our industries and create the work of the future. This Tory government is a driverless vehicle. This budget is insufficient, inadequate and insincere.”

He added that changes to the controversial Universal Credit welfare scheme were “too little too late”, after Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a £1.5billion package to “address concerns” about its delivery and scrapped a seven-day initial waiting period for processing of claims.

However, Scottish council umbrella body Cosla welcomed the move, with Councillor Kelly Parry saying: “Cosla is delighted to see that government has listened to what Cosla and others have been saying and has brought forward changes in the budget to address fundamental flaws in Universal Credit.

“While not every matter has been dealt with, we hope the steps announced today will help avoid many of the problems that tenants and claimants have been experiencing.”

Amid gloomy growth forecasts, meanwhile, Mr Rennie said: “In four years the UK economy will be £45billion smaller than was estimated as recently as March and that is the optimistic projection.

“This is the cold reality of Brexit Britain. All the major economies in the western world are currently going through a period of persistent growth while the Britain has gone from top of the growth league to deep into the relegation zone. This is self-inflicted damage.”