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Increase public-sector pay by inflation and rejoin single market, Hunt urged

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has urged Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to increase public-sector pay and benefits in line with inflation and rejoin the EU single market as he prepares to deliver the budget.

With 10 days left before Mr Hunt is due to lay out the UK Government’s tax and spending plans, the SNP MP urged him to follow his party’s five-point plan.

As well as increasing public-sector pay and benefits in line with inflation – which sat at 9.2% in December – and rejoining the EU single market in the wake of the Windsor Framework, Mr Flynn also called for an extension to support for household energy bills.

Jeremy Hunt
The Chancellor will lay out his tax and spending plans later this month (Jordan Petitt/PA)

The energy price guarantee should be reduced to £2,000 as well as extending the £400 support for bills until at least the summer, he said.

Reported plans to reduce the state pension age to 68 should be shelved and investment should be directed at subsidies for green energy, Mr Flynn said.

To increase funding for the Treasury to deliver the plan, the SNP Westminster leader said the Chancellor should scrap the non-dom tax status, increase the windfall tax and introduce a levy on share buybacks, as well as use existing fiscal headroom and the decreasing price of wholesale gas.

“The number one priority for the UK budget must be to put money back into people’s pockets – and reverse this Tory-made cost-of-living crisis,” Mr Flynn said.

“Scotland is a wealthy, energy-rich country but families are being fleeced by Westminster. By refusing to act, the Tories are showing why Scotland needs independence, so we can escape Westminster control, rejoin the EU and build a fair and prosperous economy.

“Families are sick to the back teeth of being ripped off by the Tory government. Instead of hammering household incomes, the Chancellor must save families £1,400 by slashing energy bills and deliver a comprehensive package of support.

“The SNP’s five-point plan would reduce bills, raise incomes and boost economic growth at a time when many families are struggling to get by.

“With energy companies making record profits and the wholesale price of gas falling, there is no excuse for failing to act.”

A UK government spokesman said: “People across Scotland rightly want and expect to see both governments to continue working together on the issues that matter to them – including tackling cost-of-living pressures.

“Our plan to halve inflation this year will allow everyone’s incomes to go further.

“We are also providing significant support over this year and next – worth on average £3,500 per household – as well as a record increase in the National Living Wage and uprating Universal Credit and the State Pension by 10% in April.

“The Scottish Government is also receiving a record block grant of an average of £41 billion per year for the next three years to use at their discretion to deliver for the Scottish people”.