LOSSIEMOUTH AND KINLOSS communities will particularly welcome the UK Government’s commitment on defence spending made in the budget this week.
That was the view expressed by Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor Douglas Ross, the Tory candidate at the general election earlier this year saying that the Chancellor had also rewarded “hard working families and individuals” across Moray.
However, his comments were dismissed by the SNP, with local MP Angus Robertson insisting the budget would “hit hard on working families”.
Councillor Ross said that the pledge on future defence spending would be welcomed by RAF and Army personnel in the region: “Communities in both Lossiemouth and Kinloss will welcome the Government’s commitment to keeping defence spending at 2% of GDP every year for this Parliament.
“It shows the important role the military has in the United Kingdom and the contribution Moray plays as home to an army barracks and air base.”
He added that businesses will also benefit from a cut in corporation tax while young people will be better positioned as a result of the new apprenticeship levy for large employers.
On families he said: “Hard working families and individuals across Moray will all welcome the raising of the personal allowance to £11,000 next year and to £12,500 by 2020, meaning people keeping more of their hard earned salaries to themselves. It also means that many people have been taken out of paying income tax altogether.
“The continued freeze on fuel duty will make a big difference to Moray where transport is vital to the economy and local people whilst the pledge to increase NHS spending will see Scotland’s health service receiving £800 million more per year by the end of the decade.”
However, Angus Robertson hit out at the Chancellor’s statement, saying: “This Tory budget will hit hard working families, the poorest and young people the hardest.
“This continuing harsh austerity agenda – particularly the savage cuts in tax credits – at the same time as high earners get more tax breaks, is very bad news for those on low incomes.
“Any increase in the living wage is of course welcome, but the reality is that the good will be undone by the Tory cuts to the incomes of people who can least afford it and the living wage in Scotland is currently £7.85 – George Osborne is proposing to see it effectively lowered to £7.20.”
Councillor Ross said that it was “predictable” of the SNP to pick holes in a budget that has been widely welcomed. He added: “With more powers coming to the Scottish Parliament, they will have the opportunity to put funding where they think it is currently lacking.
“The Scottish Government will be able to top-up Universal Credit, including tax credits. Given their opposition to this part of the budget it will be interesting to see what the SNP plan to do with their extra powers next year, and crucially how they plan to pay for any additional benefits they introduce.
“This is a budget that continues to reward those in work and to encourage others back into employment. It is a budget which builds on the efforts made to rebuild the economy and I am sure many of its measures will be warmly welcomed across Moray.”