Harsh austerity measures were being imposed on Scotland by a Conservative government which was overwhelmingly rejected north of the border, the Scottish National Party have protested.
It pledged to fight cuts to tax credits and dismissed the announcement of a new living wage as a “con trick”. The SNP also signalled that it could oppose plans to convert maintenance grants for university students into loans, if there was a knock-on effect in Scotland. One of its MPs even suggested the cuts could lead to people killing themselves.
Stewart Hosie, the deputy leader and treasury spokesman, said “hard-working families, the poorest and young people” would be hit hardest.
He said: “This Budget was a sermon from the high priest of an austerity cult – taking from the poor and hard-working people and giving to the richest. The Tories’ cuts in the living standards of young people are particularly severe, including scrapping student grants.
“The SNP Government will continue to deliver grants for the poorest students in Scotland, demonstrating the benefits of having these powers in the Scottish Parliament, rather than in Tory hands at Westminster.”
Phil Boswell, the SNP MP for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill, told the Commons: “Dark times are indeed ahead – especially as these cuts will see further decimation of the already over-stretched and struggling social security system. This darkness I speak of can often lead to the loss of all hope and ultimately something much more sinister – suicide.”
Mr Hosie said: “The UK Government are imposing this austerity Budget on Scotland on the basis of having a single Tory MP north of the border.”
In his Budget speech, the Chancellor argued that the new Government was delivering “major devolution of tax and welfare powers” to Holyrood. Mr Osborne said: “Instead of complaining endlessly about process in Westminster, the SNP Scottish Government will soon have to answer the question, “You’ve got the powers. When are you going to use them?”
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