CHANCELLOR Jeremy Hunt has announced funding for two projects in Scotland in the Spring Budget - one of which is in a Tory-controlled council area.

Hunt also claimed that the Scottish Government would see an additional £320 million through Barnett consequentials. 

Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday as he announced the UK Government's fiscal plans, Hunt told MPs that the Edinburgh Festivals would be given £8.6 million in funding

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A further £1.5m will be stumped up by the Tories to repair the Cloddach Bridge in Moray.

Moray council is a Tory controlled authority, with support from Labour members, and the local MP is Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross.

Hunt told the House of Commons: “For Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland this Budget delivers not only a new investment zone but an additional £320m for the Scottish Government, £180m for the Welsh Government and £130m for the Northern Ireland Executive as a result of Barnett consequentials.

“On top of which in Scotland, I can announce up to £8.6m of targeted funding for the Edinburgh Festivals as well as £1.5m funding to repair the Cloddach Bridge."

Cloddach Bridge has been closed to vehicles while the local authority monitors its deteriorating condition. In February, Moray council said it would cost around £3m to fully replace the bridge. 

Elsewhere, the Chancellor said the UK Government would deliver 12 new investment zones, which he labelled “12 potential Canary Wharfs”.

He said: “In England, we have identified the following areas as having the potential to host one: West Midlands, Greater Manchester, the North East, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, East Midlands, Teesside and, once again, Liverpool.

“There will also be at least one in each of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

It comes as Hunt said that the UK is now not facing a technical recession this year and inflation is set to fall, according to an analysis by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). 

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The Chancellor said: “We remain vigilant, and will not hesitate to take whatever steps are necessary for economic stability. Today the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast that because of changing international factors and the measures I take, the UK will not now enter a technical recession this year.

“They forecast we will meet the Prime Minister’s priorities to halve inflation, reduce debt and get the economy growing. We are following the plan and the plan is working. But that’s not all we’ve done.”

The OBR report set out that inflation in the UK will fall from 10.7% in the final quarter of 2022, to 2.9% by the end of 2023, Hunt said. 

Elsewhere, Hunt said the Government would bring prepayment meters in line with comparable direct debit charges, following concerns raised that those on the lowest incomes had been forced to pay more during the energy crisis, with some firms forcing the installation of prepayment meters onto some households. 

There were also announcements in relation to alcohol duties, with an increased draught relief for pubs, with the duty set to be 11p lower than in supermarkets. 

The National: Draught beer duties for pubs will be frozenDraught beer duties for pubs will be frozen

“British ale may be warm, but the duty on a pint is frozen," Hunt said.

However, Scottish whisky producers were not pleased with the Chancellor's decision to raise the duty on Scotch whisky by 10.1%, the largest hike in recent decades. 

Mark Kent, chief executive of the Scottish Whisky Association (SWA), said: “This is a historic blow to the Scotch whisky industry.

"The largest tax increase for decades means that 75% of the average priced bottle of Scotch whisky will be collected in tax, reducing already tight margins for an industry which employs tens of thousands of people and invests hundreds of millions annually across the UK."

"We have been clear with the UK Government that increasing duty would be the wrong decision at the wrong time, so it is deeply disappointing that one of Scotland’s largest and longest-standing industries has been treated in this way," Kent added. 

The National: The Scottish Whisky Association hit out at the rise in duty for the industryThe Scottish Whisky Association hit out at the rise in duty for the industry

Hunt also committed to freezing the fuel duty and keeping the "temporary" 5p cut in place but added that tobacco duties would see an increase.

Hunt announced a policy of “full expensing” for the next three years and with an intention to make it permanent.

He explained: “That means that every single pound a company invests in IT equipment, plant or machinery can be deducted in full and immediately from taxable profits. It is a corporation tax cut worth an average of £9 billion a year for every year it is in place.”

Hunt said the measure is expected to increase business investment.

He added: “I understand the party opposite [Labour] is reviewing business taxes. Let me save them the bother. They put them up, we cut them.”

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However, the spring Budget also committed to raising corporation tax from 19% to 25%. 

The Chancellor told MPs: “We already have lower levels of business taxation than France, Germany, Italy or Japan. But I want us to have the most pro-business, pro-enterprise tax regime anywhere. Even after the corporation tax rise this April, we will have the lowest headline rate in the G7 – lower than at any period under the last Labour government.

“Only 10% of companies will pay the full 25% rate. But even at 19% our corporation tax regime did not incentivise investment as effectively as countries with higher headline rates.”

Scotland's acting Finance Secretary John Swinney said the budget was a "missed opportunity" to lift families out of poverty, invest in public services and help businesses. 

The National: Swinney said the Spring Budget did not go far enoughSwinney said the Spring Budget did not go far enough

He said: “Instead, the UK Government should have taken more substantive action to increase the Scottish Government’s budget so we can better align spending and deliver for people and organisations right across Scotland.

“The limited additional money for the Scottish Government’s budget is welcome but will not go far enough and in the long-term our capital funding will fall in real-terms. Without extra funding, we will have to find money from within the Scottish Budget to invest in public services, provide fair pay rises and help people with the cost of living.

“The Scottish Government is doing what it can with its limited powers to ensure people receive the help they need, but the UK Government’s could have done far more to ease the burden affecting so many, demonstrating yet again why Scotland needs the powers of independence.”