John Swinney's Budget
13th February 2012
It was budget time again this week, and while there is no doubt that the Finance Secretary faces difficult choices, it is he who has full responsibility for the spending decisions he makes. With a clear SNP majority he can no longer pass the buck.
No political event is without spin, and John Swinney’s budget statement had it in buckets and spades.
He presented a 2% cut to the Scottish budget from the Tory-led Government as a slashing, burning cut, while his 6% cut to Scotland’s college’s was deemed fair and reasonable.
He announced £97 million of additional funding for housing over four years, but failed to mention that the housing budget will be slashed by £113 million in the first year.
The true test of a Finance Secretary is not the decisions he makes in the good times but how he prioritises his spending in the bad times.
These cuts will have a negative impact on those families on the housing waiting lists, construction workers who are being laid off every month, and the young people looking for their first apprenticeship.
If this wasn’t bad enough, the college cuts and forced mergers will reduce student numbers and impact on the quality of courses at a time when youth unemployment is running at more than 100,000.
But most depressingly of all, the £30 million cut to colleges was cheered to the rafters by SNP backbenchers.