Show me the money, says Mackay in Budget call

Derek Mackay has called on the Chancellor to “show me the money” in the Budget and warned that any increases in Scottish funding cannot be offset by cuts elsewhere.

Theresa May told the Conservative party conference earlier this month that austerity is over, and Scotland’s Finance Secretary said the pledge should lead to action.

Mr Mackay told BBC Sunday Politics Scotland: “The Prime Minister said austerity is going to end and I’m saying to the UK Government: show me the money.

“That means a substantial, meaningful uplift in addition to the health commitments, which I welcome, and it must not be offset by cuts elsewhere.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to use Monday’s statement to announce £900 million in business rates relief for almost 500,000 small retailers.

A £650 million fund will help transform high streets, improving transport access and turning empty shops into homes and offices.

Mr Mackay said the Scottish Government would look at the detail of the rates relief and could pass on support to Scottish businesses.

He told the BBC Scotland programme: “I’ll look at the detail and set it in the context of the entire Budget to ensure that Scotland remains competitive and a place that people want to live, work and invest – but I will look at what other support we can do from the Scottish Government.

“I am sympathetic around business rates because I want Scotland to be competitive and I want us to have a competitive advantage.

“That’s why we have the small business bonus, for example, where we’ve lifted 100,000 properties out of business rates altogether, and on rates reform we’re recognising Scotland as being ahead of the curve on more frequent re-evaluations.

“We’ve already put in place a number of measures to support businesses on domestic rates, and I will look at further measures following the UK Government’s Budget.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has called on the Chancellor to change the rules on Universal Credit and Child Tax Credits, while the Lib Dems want to see more certainty for businesses and public services amid Brexit negotiations.

The Scottish Conservatives want the Scottish Government to spend “every penny” of extra funding from the Budget on health and social care.

MSP Miles Briggs said: “We need to see more of our funding going to support GPs on the front line.

“We need to see improvements to cancer treatment and it is time to cut the waste and inefficiency that is stopping doctors and nurses from getting on with their jobs.

“The NHS in Scotland has a bright future. The SNP has run out of excuses. Let’s see Nicola Sturgeon set out a plan not a grievance for once.”