Scotland should be spared from worst effects of spending cuts, Nicola Sturgeon says

First Minister says her party will bring forward proposals to lessen cuts' impact

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The Scottish first minister has called for Scotland to be spared from the worst effects of spending cuts planned by the UK government.

In a speech this morning Edinburgh Nicola Sturgeon attacked the “speed and scale” of spending cuts planned by Westminster’s Conservative administration.

“The result of the general election provides an opportunity and a challenge for the Scottish government. There is clearly an opportunity to ensure that Scotland's priorities are better understood,” she said.

“But there is also a significant challenge in working with a majority government at Westminster - many of whose policies we disagree with.

“We will continue to oppose spending reductions of the scale and speed that the UK government has suggested. These would slow economic recovery and make deficit reduction more difficult - something shown by the impact of the cuts imposed after 2010.”

Ms Sturgeon said David Cameron and George Osborne should abandon austerity policies for the UK entirely, but added that if there was no change of course the policy’s impact on Scotland should be mitigated.

She said the country's government would bring forward specific proposals to lessen the cuts' worst effects.

“If the UK government does decide to stick to its current proposals we will argue for ways in which the impact on Scotland can be lessened,” she argued.


The first minister also commented on the government’s plan for an in-out EU referendum; she reiterated her call for the constituent nations of the UK to have to agree on an exit – a so-called “double lock”.

She added that the EU was not “perfect” but that reform was a better option that exit.

At the same address Ms Sturgeon unveiled the Scottish government’s new Scottish Business Pledge, a voluntary scheme for employers to sign up to.

The pledge includes nine components and includes a commitment to the living wage, appropriate used of zero hours contracts, and playing an active role in the community.

The SNP runs a majority government at Holyrood and won all but three of Scotland’s 59 constituencies in this month’s Westminster general election.