How should the new Scottish Government go about reversing the austerity measures the country has been enduring since the economy went into freefall in 2008?

Thursday, 28th April 2016, 7:00 am
Barrie Cunning (Scottish Labour); Jim Hume (Scottish Liberal Democrat); Dan Foley (RISE); John Lamont (Scottish Conservative); Cheryl Scott (Solidarity); Paul Wheelhouse (SNP); Beverley Gauld (Independant) and Sarah Beattie-Smith (Scottish Green Party) lined up to answer questions at the Duns election hustings.

Green candidate Sarah Beattie Smith said: “We are told austerity is necessary because we have a huge amount of debt but it’s just pitting the poor against the poorest.

“There is 60% of council cuts still to come.

“It’s an absolute disgrace. We want to change the 
tax system and use the powers we have got and the powers that are coming, scrapping council tax so there is much more money coming in through local income tax.”

Labour’s Barrie Cunning said: “We would use powers to raise taxes by one per cent. We have seen jobs going from this area and need to reverse that.”

The additional powers coming to the Scottish Parliament were also emphasised by the Lib Dem candidate Jim Hume: “More powers to the Scottish Parliament should mean that rather than taking all the praise for everything that goes right and blaming others for what goes wrong we get into more grown-up politics.

“Forty per cent of Scots and 50% of the rural population are in fuel poverty and the Lib Dems have a warm home plan.”

The RISE party has a plan to inject £4.5 billion into the Scottish economy, replacing council tax with a Scottish service tax, and a guaranteed living wage of £10 an hour, for everyone, not just those over the age of 25.

The Conservative party’s John Lamont said we can’t spend what we don’t have while trying to clear the debt at the same time.

“This Government (UK) is taking thousands of families out of poverty. Over 2000 more people in the 
Borders are in work since 2005 and that’s thanks to the economic policy of this Government.

“40,000 fewer children live in a non working household. We are getting people back into work.”

Paul Wheelhouse pointed the finger of austerity clearly at the Conservative and Lib Dem coalition partners between 2010 and 2015 saying: “It was a Lib Dem treasury minister who set in motion the cuts we have today.”

He went on to highlight the Private Finance Investment and Public Private Partnership debt of £300 million for the three new high schools which takes out £6 million a year from the council’s education budget.