THE SNP have challenged the Tory government to deliver an inflation-busting increase in spending on the NHS and education to avoid a winter crisis.

With fixed devolved budgets facing real terms cuts by Westminster, the Scottish and Welsh governments have led calls for the UK Government to deliver the extra cash required to avert strike action and protect frontline services.

Ahead of the UK Budget, the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford MP said: “The Tory government has imposed real terms cuts to devolved budgets at the worst possible time – when public services are already under pressure from the impact of Brexit, Covid-19 and rising costs.

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“The Chancellor must stump up the inflation-busting extra cash that is required for our NHS and public services to avert strike action and avoid a winter crisis.

“The fact that the Tories have trashed the UK economy with Brexit and 12 years of economic mismanagement cannot be used as an excuse to trash our public services too. People must not pay the price for Tory failure.

“Despite Tory cuts to a fixed budget, the Scottish Government has already offered NHS staff a record pay increase of 7% across the board, with the lowest-paid receiving 11%.

“The UK Budget must now deliver the extra cash required to protect pay and services. The Tories can do it by making fairer choices, including expanding the windfall tax, taxing non-doms and share buybacks.

“But with the long-term economic decline from Brexit and Tory cuts, the Westminster economic crisis is here to stay – and independence is the only way to keep Scotland safe.”

His words come as Rishi Sunak declined to apologise for the mistakes of Liz Truss’s government that are expected to add billions of pounds of tax hikes and spending cuts to his Budget.

The Prime Minister instead insisted that he will make “difficult decisions that are required to fix” the missteps of his Conservative predecessor in No 10.

Economists at the Resolution Foundation have calculated that Truss’s disastrous mini-Budget exacerbated the problem to the tune of £30 billion while causing chaos in the mortgage market.

During a round of broadcast interviews in Bali, Sunak repeatedly refused to apologise for the Tories’ handling of the economy.

Instead, when pressed by Sky News, Sunak said he has acknowledged “mistakes were made”, adding: “What I want to do now is fix them.”

“I think I demonstrated over the summer that I’m prepared to be honest with the country about the challenges we face and to make the difficult decisions that are required to fix them,” he said.