Derek Mackay calls for more UK cash ahead of Budget

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Derek Mackay
Image caption,
Derek Mackay said the rates relief expected to be announced by the chancellor could be passed on to support Scottish businesses

Scotland's finance secretary has warned that any increases in Scottish funding in Monday's Budget cannot be offset by cuts elsewhere.

Derek Mackay called on Philip Hammond to "show me the money" after Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this month said that austerity was over.

Speaking to BBC Scotland, Mr Mackay said that pledge should lead to action.

However, Mr Hammond said detailed information would have to wait for next year's spending review.

Mr Mackay told the BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland: "The prime minister said austerity is going to end and I'm saying to the UK government: show me the money.

"That means a substantial, meaningful uplift in addition to the health commitments, which I welcome, and it must not be offset by cuts elsewhere."

Speaking about the "end to austerity" statement, Mr Hammond said: "Once we get a good deal from the European Union and the smooth exit from the EU, we will be able to show the British people that the fruits of their hard work are now at last in sight."

The chancellor is expected to use Monday's statement to announce £900m in business rates relief for almost 500,000 small retailers.

A £650m fund will help transform high streets, improving transport access and turning empty shops into homes and offices.

'Competitive advantage'

Business rates in Scotland are devolved but the Budget may include money for the Scottish government.

Mr Mackay said the rates relief could be passed on to support Scottish businesses.

He told the programme: "I'll look at the detail and set it in the context of the entire Budget to ensure that Scotland remains competitive and a place that people want to live, work and invest - but I will look at what other support we can do from the Scottish government.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Philip Hammond said detailed information about the end of austerity would have to wait for next year's spending review

"I am sympathetic around business rates because I want Scotland to be competitive and I want us to have a competitive advantage.

"That's why we have the small business bonus, for example, where we've lifted 100,000 properties out of business rates altogether, and on rates reform we're recognising Scotland as being ahead of the curve on more frequent re-evaluations."

He added: "We've already put in place a number of measures to support businesses on domestic rates, and I will look at further measures following the UK government's Budget."

Supporting GPs

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has called on the chancellor to change the rules on Universal Credit and Child Tax Credits, while the Lib Dems want to see more certainty for businesses and public services amid Brexit negotiations.

The Scottish Conservatives want the Scottish government to spend "every penny" of extra funding from the Budget on health and social care.

MSP Miles Briggs said: "We need to see more of our funding going to support GPs on the front line.

"We need to see improvements to cancer treatment and it is time to cut the waste and inefficiency that is stopping doctors and nurses from getting on with their jobs.

"The NHS in Scotland has a bright future. The SNP has run out of excuses. Let's see Nicola Sturgeon set out a plan not a grievance for once."