Tories must scrap austerity programme, say ministers
Scottish and Welsh finance secretaries call for UK Government to end obsession with 'failed policy'.
The Scottish and Welsh finance secretaries have called on the UK Government to abandon its "flawed" austerity programme ahead of a meeting of devolved administrations on Thursday.
Derek Mackay and Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford said cash-strapped public services will struggle to cope with planned UK Treasury cuts in 2019-20.
They are now calling on the Tories to abandon their "obsession" with austerity in favour of fresh economic investment.
Mr Mackay said: "We have repeatedly called for the UK Government to end austerity, invest in public services and reverse the cuts that are damaging our economy and hurting some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
"The UK Government will cut £2.9m or 9.2% from our discretionary Scottish budget in the ten years to 2019-20. And that is before taking account of the impact of the UK Government's further planned efficiency savings of £2.5bn in 2019-20 - which could cut another £350m from the Scottish budget.
"While we have done what we can to mitigate the worst effects of UK Government austerity, the continued and sustained real terms reductions in our budget makes this increasingly difficult.
"The UK Government needs to abandon their obsession with austerity. The policy has failed and it is time to stimulate the economy by investing in this country's future."
Last year, a UN report found the Tory austerity programme breached international human rights.
The programme of public service cuts and welfare reforms has disproportionately affected women, young people, ethnic minorities and disabled people, the report stated.
Mr Drakeford said: "Our draft Budget was set against the backdrop of the longest period of sustained austerity in living memory - one which has seen our budget cut by 7% in real terms since 2010.
"The UK Government's failed and unnecessary policy of austerity continues to place unjustifiable constraints on public services in Wales.
"After seven years of sustained austerity the evidence is clear - it is a failed policy and must be abandoned. Public services across the UK are feeling the pinch and I urge the UK Government to change tack and invest."