United Kingdom

Alister Jack: Growth plan sets out bold and ambitious steps to rebuild economy

WHEN our country faces challenges of an unprecedented nature, it is time to take unprecedented action for our people.

Putin’s appalling invasion of Ukraine has caused significant increases in our cost of living.

Through our UK-wide furlough scheme, the self-employment income support scheme and our world-beating vaccine programme, we have ridden the storm of the coronavirus as one United Kingdom, but we are still being buffeted by the after effects of the global pandemic.

The UK Government is acutely aware of the impact these exceptional events are having on families, consumers and businesses across the country.

That’s why our growth plan takes bold and ambitious steps to help withstand the economic turbulence. Using the broad shoulders and fiscal firepower of the UK Treasury, we can ensure our people thrive regardless of what fate may throw at us.

Under our new Prime Minister Liz Truss, the UK Government’s over-riding priority is to ignite economic growth and with it deliver more and better paid jobs across the United Kingdom.

In the words of Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng we will turn this vicious cycle of stagnation into a virtuous cycle of growth.

A stronger economy means everyone benefits. Growing the economy towards our 2.5 per cent target will drive wages up, create more opportunities and increase the tax base to fund better public services.

By reversing the National Insurance increase, 2.3 million Scots will save an average of £285 next year. And through our plans to work with the Scottish Government to deliver Investment Zones for Scotland, we’re looking to stimulate growth like never before, and invigorate local communities.

Our plans to cut income and property tax south of the border will result in more than £600 million coming to the Scottish Government over the next three years – adding to its already record annual block grant of £41 billion.

Given that income and property tax is devolved, it will be up to the Scottish Government to decide how it uses the cash and whether they follow our bold tax-cutting plans.

But as Scottish Secretary, I’m determined to work with Scottish ministers to stimulate economic growth.

This is a particular issue in Scotland where growth has lagged behind the rest of the UK. The establishment of 12 regional growth deals shows what we can do when we work together.

I also want to work with the Scottish Government to extract energy from the North Sea, improve transport across the UK, and use gene editing to give our farmers the technology to improve food security and tackle climate change.

Yesterday’s freeze on alcohol duty will result in whisky and gin continuing to benefit from the lowest real term tax rates since 1918. And keeping Corporation Tax at 19 per cent will help businesses grow.

All this is on top of the unparalleled action we are taking to tackle the energy crisis.

Our Energy Price Guarantee will save the typical household £1,000 a year on their energy bill, and provide payments for those not on the grid. While the Energy Bill Relief Scheme will protect businesses and other non-domestic energy users by providing a discount on gas and electricity prices.

Along with our existing £37 billion cost of living support measures, these multi-billion pound UK-wide interventions are bigger in scale than the furlough scheme – a vivid demonstration of the benefits of working together and the strength of the UK.

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