SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie has criticised a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies into the SNP’s plans for full fiscal autonomy as “absolutely irrelevant”.
The report by the independent think-tank said that full fiscal autonomy would leave a £7.6 billion black hole in Scotland’s economy.
Speaking on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show, Hosie echoed arguments made by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that the report was a snapshot.
Loading article content
He claimed this “big scary number” ignored the £15bn of Scottish growth predicted to 2020, the extra growth the SNP says it can generate with more powers, and the UK’s comparable £75bn deficit.
He said: “The IFS figure is for this year, that is what they say. We are not going to have full fiscal autonomy this year, we haven’t even had the election.
“We would have to have the Queen’s Speech and then legislation through both Houses of Parliament. It’s absolutely irrelevant because it is a figure for this year.”
He added: “£7.6bn – it’s a big, scary number and it’s the one that our opponents have alighted upon this week, (but) the UK has a deficit of £75bn and a debt of £1.5 trillion.
“It’s rather patronising for our opponents to suggest that Scotland couldn’t manage a deficit down from £7.6bn into the future, but the UK, which has performed very badly, can somehow suggest that they can get their deficit down.”
After the leaders' debate in Aberdeen, where Sturgeon said she would like full fiscal autonomy as soon as it could be arranged in Westminster, the IFS report dominated the election campaign at the end of last week with Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats all using it to damn the SNP’s economic credibility.
Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy claimed that the policy would lead to “full fiscal austerity”.
Over the weekend, the SNP began to make the economic case for full fiscal autonomy, with the First Minister writing in the Sunday Herald that it was a “grown-up, responsible financial arrangement”.