Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has responded to today’s Spending Review by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, calling it a “retreat in ambition” from the Government. The Chancellor’s speech included a partial public sector pay freeze and a significant cut to international development, but made no reference to help for those excluded from pandemic economic support or to the impact of the end of the EU transition period, coming in 37 days.
Mr Carmichael said:
“The pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for our finances and so we needed an unprecedented response. Instead in too many areas we are seeing a retreat in ambition from the Government disguised by warm words. Freezing public sector pay, even with mitigations for the low-paid, is not right at this time. We need to invest in people, not vanity projects, in order to recover strongly in the coming months.
“What we did not hear was as significant as what we did. There was no mention of support for businesses to mitigate the impact of new trade barriers as we leave the EU transition in January – just 37 days away now. Once again the Chancellor missed the opportunity to give any scrap of support for the three million people left out from economic support to date. Their continuing exclusion is a national scandal that has never been addressed even while the Tories have handed out waves of cash to politically connected companies and consultants.
“On the world stage, slashing the international development budget is short sighted. The United Kingdom’s commitment to spending 0.7% of our GDP on aid was world-leading and a symbol of our global vision. The Liberal Democrats put that commitment into law – by cutting it the Tories are signalling the United Kingdom’s retreat from the world.”