Scotland’s Deputy First Minister says he will not replicate ‘reckless’ tax cuts

The Scottish Government will not replicate the Conservatives’ “reckless” tax cuts, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has said.

Mr Swinney, who is also acting as Finance Secretary, said he would convene an expert advisory group and respond to the Chancellor’s mini-budget at the end of October.

Nicola Sturgeon had earlier voiced her opposition to the measures in Kwasi Kwarteng’s Growth Plan, saying they were “morally repugnant”.

Financial markets have been in turmoil since the announcement on Friday, with the pound falling to a record low against the US dollar on Monday morning.

The Scottish Parliament has powers to set different rates of income tax compared with the rest of the UK.

Responding to questions in Holyrood on Tuesday, Mr Swinney said: “We will not be replicating the Tories’ reckless tax cuts, but we’ll consider carefully the correct measures for Scotland.

“I intend to seek advice from an expert panel specifically convened to consider the implications of the mini-budget, and will also embark on discussions with business and trade union interests.”

He said he would present an emergency budget review to parliament on the week commencing October 24.

The Deputy First Minister continued: “The damaging impact of the UK Government decisions on Friday demonstrate why Scotland needs the full range of financial powers to avoid living at the mercy of bad decisions taken in Westminster.”

Newly elected MSPs arrive at Holyrood
Douglas Lumsden said the tax gap was growing (Jane Barlow/PA)

Conservative MSP Douglas Lumsden said Mr Swinney appeared to have already ruled out tax cuts for workers in Scotland.

He said: “Some of the Scottish Government’s former economic advisers warned that Scotland cannot afford to fall further behind the rest of the UK in the tax gap.

“So why will you not ensure that tax cuts are passed on – but not to the rich, but to our doctors, nurses, teachers and police, who face being taxed more during the cost-of-living crisis than their colleagues in the rest of the UK?”

The Deputy First Minister said replicating the Conservative plan would mean tax cuts for those who are already “very, very wealthy”.

Saying he would consider the issue “carefully”, he added: “I don’t think any of us should underestimate the scale of disruption and damage that was done by the announcements on Friday.

“I have to take a careful and prudential approach in managing the public finances of Scotland, and that is what I’m going to do.”