IAN Blackford has defended a report commissioned by the SNP setting out new economic arguments for independence after speculation indicated the party could shelve its findings.

The SNP’s Westminster leader hit back at the suggestion in a television interview, defending the Growth Commission’s recommendation that an independent Scotland would carry on using the pound, though not in a currency union with the UK, and that the report did not mean an independent Scotland would implement austerity policies.

“I think there are many sensible suggestions in the Growth Commission report and I think [the currency suggestion] is one which offers stability to the people of Scotland post independence,” he said. “They will know their pensions are going to be safe, their investments are going to be safe and that they can continue to use the pound. And of course sure we take the decisions that are going to be important in setting up a central bank and making sure we are prepared for the longer term.”

One of the recommendations in the report, drawn up by the former MSP Andrew Wilson, is to reduce the Budget deficit – the difference between public spending and revenue generated from taxes – from around 6% at the start of independence to 3% within a decade.

Left-wing Yes critics have said the recommendation would mean an independent Scotland would pursue a policy of economic austerity in the early years.

But addressing the criticism, when interviewed on the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland yesterday, Blackford said: “The report does not reverse the anti-austerity position of the SNP...there are many on the left in the party and the wider movement who have said to me they are very comfortable with this.

“It’s about making sure we do invest in public services and take our responsibility on the fiscal side as well.”

The report will be debated in a series of national assembly meetings held by the SNP over the summer with figures in the wider Yes movement due to be invited.