Salmond gives Budget warning to Chancellor

CHANCELLOR George Osborne unveils his fourth Budget today amid calls for cash for building projects to create and sustain jobs.

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First Minister Alex Salmond has called on Mr Osborne to deliver extra capital investment and warned against short-term measures ahead of the independence referendum and a UK General Election.

The Budget is not expected to have many eye-catching announcements as there will be one more before the election in May 2015 and several tax changes to come into force in April have already been announced.

However, politicians, business leaders and campaigners are eager for new measures to be implemented.

Mr Salmond said: "In his Budget, George Osborne must take the road to recovery by delivering additional capital investment.

"While we are seeing promising signs of economic growth, the fact that we are not even half-way through the UK Government's spending cuts programme with austerity now projected to continue until 2018-19, underlines the failure of the UK Government's approach to the economy.

"In his final Budget before the referendum George Osborne may be tempted to offer Scotland short-term promises but this will not compensate for the impact of decades of mismanagement of our economy by the UK Government."

Anti-poverty campaigners want to see measures to protect people on low incomes.

John Dickie, the head of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said: "With current policies pushing up to 100,000 children in Scotland into poverty it is vital that the Chancellor uses the Budget to support family incomes.

"That means increases to the national minimum wage and to the in-work support provided by tax credits and the new universal credit, as well as a boost to the family benefits that protect families and support local economies."

Mr Osborne is being urged to scrap plans to increase duty on whisky and bring in measures to boost investment. The Scotch Whisky Association wants the fuel duty escalator on spirits scrapped.

The SWA said: "Whisky in the UK is under sustained pressure from unfair annual above inflation duty increases. Last year Scotch whisky volumes in the UK fell by 3%.

"Nearly 80% of an average priced bottle of Scotch Whisky is tax and goes straight to the Exchequer - £4 in every £5 spent on a bottle of Scotch goes to the Chancellor."

Meanwhile the Confederation of British Industry said the chancellor should freeze Air Passenger Duty.

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