Scottish reaction to Chancellor Alistair Darling's Budget.
RUSSELL HILLS - HEAD OF TAX at KPMG IN SCOTLAND
The Budget projections look like a triumph of hope over experience. Despite having to drastically downgrade his forecast for growth this year, the Chancellor still expects the economy to rebound over the next two years.
Even though Mr Darling insists that the end of the recession is in sight, we are still looking at eye-watering budget deficits and a doubling of public debt.
In trying to combine support for the economy with reassurances that the public finances will be brought under control, the Chancellor risks falling between two stools. If he hasn't done enough to end the recession, the plans for improving the public finances will unravel as well
GRAHAME SMITH - SCOTTISH TRADES UNION CONGRESS
The STUC can enthusiastically welcome the substantial measures introduced in the Budget aimed at rebalancing the UK taxation framework.
Assistance aimed at boosting growth in offshore wind and carbon capture and storage is potentially hugely beneficial to the Scottish economy. We also look forward to the consultation on re-regulation of the financial sector.
However, the STUC believes a golden opportunity has been missed to introduce a timely and targeted fiscal stimulus to save current jobs and create new ones. We also remain very concerned at the timing and size of proposed efficiency measures.
JACQUI WATT - SCOTTISH FEDERATION OF HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS
The SFHA is very disappointed that the Chancellor's touted £1bn package to boost housing did not include any significant money targeted at new build affordable housing. This is a huge missed opportunity to create thousands of jobs and homes in communities that desperately need them.
Scotland can only look forward to a share of the £500m earmarked to help kickstart stalled housing developments, and we will be fighting for a share for housing associations, many of whose developments have suffered during the credit crunch.
These measures are not nearly enough to tackle the desperate crisis in housing which sees nearly half a million Scots on housing waiting lists, and a stalled construction industry. It is doubly disappointing after the Scottish Government had committed to putting any extra funds it received from the budget towards new build affordable housing.
ANDY WILLOX - FEDERATION OF SMALL BUSINESSES IN SCOTLAND
It is a relief that the flexibility in making tax payments, of which many Scottish small firms have already taken advantage, is to continue.
We are also pleased at the extension of the scheme to allow loss-making companies to reclaim taxes already paid on profits in the last 3 years.
However, the fuel duty rise will make it particularly hard for rural and other essential business road users to keep moving during the downturn.
IAIN MCMILLAN - CBI SCOTLAND
We are encouraged that ministers have listened to CBI lobbying on the need to aid firms' cash flow through the introduction of a trade credit insurance top up scheme, as well as bringing in a scrappage scheme to stimulate vehicle purchases.
Other useful measures announced include changes to do with the fiscal regime affecting North Sea oil and gas, promoting a low carbon economy, improved capital allowances, and aid to kick start house-building.
However, we are deeply disturbed by the further rises in duty on alcohol and on fuel duty. The additional taxation on spirits and alcohol will make it harder to argue for fairer taxation on Scottish exports in overseas markets.
LIZ CAMERON - SCOTTISH CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE
We welcome the doubling of the capital allowance for investment in 2009/10 to 40%. This should boost and encourage many businesses as they prepare and plan for the future in a difficult economic climate.
Similarly we welcome the Chancellor's announcement that he will provide new incentives for the development of smaller North Sea oil fields, helping to boost production and maximise the lifespan of our oil and gas reserves.
Less welcome is the news that Fuel Duty will increase by 2p in September and by 1p above inflation next April. This will increase the cost of transport and doing business in Scotland, particularly in our rural areas - a cost which businesses can ill afford at this time. Similarly the news that alcohol taxes are to rise by 2% will come as bad news to many businesses in the licensed trade, hospitality industry, tourism and food and drink sectors.
EUGENE DUFFY - SCOTTISH PENSIONERS FORUM
Pensioners were awarded a meagre 2.5% increase in their state pension regardless of the rate of inflation.
Although we welcome any mechanism which generates more income for pensioners, what has been offered today is still not enough and so negotiations must remain ongoing in order to award pensioners what they are rightly due.
Official Scottish Government statistics show that during 2006/2007, 180,000 pensioners lived in relative poverty and the sharp increase in food and fuel prices in the past year will no doubt see that figure escalate. More must be done to secure the welfare needs of our ageing population.
DOUGLAS HAMILTON - SAVE THE CHILDREN IN SCOTLAND
We are hugely disappointed that the budget has not prioritised the urgent needs of the quarter of a million children living in poverty in Scotland.
Putting money into the hands of parents is the key way to lift children out of poverty and the shamefully small increase in child tax credit will not be enough.
The government's own target of halving child poverty by 2010 is no longer achievable. Today was their last chance to keep their promises that they made a decade ago and they have failed to do that
GAVIN HEWITT - SCOTCH WHISKY ASSOCIATION
A duty increase during a recession is a real blow and follows last year's duty rises on Scotch, the largest since the 1970s.
The government should be supporting all UK businesses, including Scotch whisky distillers, who have the potential to help drive the economy out of recession.
Instead, our industry is being weakened by the alcohol duty escalator. As this represents a 5% increase in real terms, the Treasury is likely to see lower receipts as the duty rise aggravates already tough market conditions in the UK, the industry's third largest market, and weak consumer confidence.