John Swinney launches George Osborne attack

john swinney
Image caption Mr Swinney was addressing a business audience in Glasgow

Scotland's finance secretary has launched a fresh attack on the UK Chancellor's economic policies.

John Swinney accused George Osborne of placing too much emphasis on austerity, and of using the euro crisis as an excuse for the stalling UK economy.

He also outlined how he believed independence could boost prosperity.

Mr Swinney was addressing an audience of academics and business figures at Glasgow Caledonian University's School for Business and Society.

He challenged the Chancellor's assertion that the eurozone crisis is "killing off" economic recovery and said the UK economy is stalling because of the Chancellor's own fiscal and economic policy.

'Promoting growth'

He added: "On my visits across Scotland as finance secretary, I see a business community that is working hard to achieve success both domestically and internationally despite the challenging economic and financial backdrop.

"The Scottish government is providing all the support we can to these businesses under the current circumstances. Within the limited powers we have we have already ensured that Scotland has the most competitive business rates in the UK and we are now seeking to do the same with our new responsibility for property transaction taxes.

"We also continue to lobby the Chancellor to stop his emphasis on austerity and start the businesses of promoting growth with an approach based on boosting public sector capital investment, improving access to finance and encouraging new private investment; and enhancing economic security."

Addressing the opportunities he believes are presented by independence, Mr Swinney said Scotland was "rich in opportunity and bursting with innovation" which it currently did not manage often enough to translate into greater commercial opportunities.

"Independence will provide us with new tools - tax credits for example - which we could use to create a step change in R & D in Scotland", he said.

"In addition to the tax regime, an independent Scotland would have much greater scope to shape the regulatory environment so that it not only promoted greater competition, but also encouraged greater consumer choice and technical innovation.

"The culture of business we can build in an independent Scotland with a 'can do' attitude, means taking decisions in Scotland, in the interests of Scotland. This will create a better business culture in specific to the needs of Scotland and can this in turn can build prosperity for all."

'Latest symptom'

George Osborne warned over the weekend that Britain's prospects for economic recovery are being "killed off" by the crisis in the eurozone.

In some of his strongest comments to date, the Chancellor voiced his exasperation at the repeated failure of the eurozone nations to find a permanent solution to end the financial turmoil.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph he said: "The lesson of the last two years is that treating the latest symptom does not cure the underlying conditions."

While there were signs a solution to the latest bout of uncertainty in the Spanish banking system was on the cards, Mr Osborne said it would not be enough to end the threat to the UK economy.

He said: "Our recovery - already facing powerful headwinds from high oil prices and the debt burden left behind by the boom years - is being killed off by the crisis on our doorstep."

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