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Politics: The budget and spending review will deliver for the whole of the United Kingdom

By David Porter

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The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, has delivered his autumn Budget and Spending Review that delivers for the whole United Kingdom.

It sees the largest block grant for the Scottish Government since devolution in 1998 – up £4.6 billion to £41.8 billion.

The National Living Wage increases by 6.6 per cent to £9.50 and Universal Credit taper rate is reduced from 63p to 55p.

Along with increasing work allowances by £500, this means that by December 1, 2021, 1.9 million of the lowest income households will keep on average an additional £1000 per year

This means a pay rise for over 2 million workers and a £2 billion tax cut for families right across the UK.

Spirits duty is frozen and beer duties are cut – great news of course for the Scotch Whisky industry as well as our hospitality and growing brewing sectors.

In addition, fuel duty is frozen – great news for rural residents.

Air Passenger Duty which will make travel within the UK cheaper and support regional airports like Aberdeen.
Air Passenger Duty which will make travel within the UK cheaper and support regional airports like Aberdeen.

I was also pleased to see a reduction to domestic Air Passenger Duty which will make travel within the UK cheaper and support regional airports like Aberdeen.

To help reduce emissions, duty be increased on ultra long-haul flights greater than 5,500 miles.

Fewer than 5 per cent of passengers will pay more, and those who fly farthest will pay the most.

The Scottish Government will also receive £1.9bn for farmers and land managers and £42.2m to support fisheries for the next three years.

These benefits – along with many others, including the vast amount of Covid support in the last 18 months – are only possible because of the UK’s pooled economic strength

The UK Government has announced which Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) site will be provided with accelerated support for operation by the mid-2020s.

Although the Scottish Cluster did not make the first cut in this sequencing round, the high quality of the bid means that the St Fergus-based Acorn CCS and Hydrogen Project has been selected as the first reserve cluster.

This means that if one of the select clusters doesn’t progress, Acorn will replace it.

Project developers still predict that the Acorn project should still be operational by 2026.

Contrary to misleading media reports and scaremongering by the SNP, this is not the end of the story for Acorn and it certainly does not mean that the UK Government has abandoned or rejected it.

Acorn still plays a key role in meeting the UK's CCUS targets and has already received £31 million investment from the UK Government.

I am continuing to work with the project leadership and Government ministers to help identify the support they will need for ongoing development and planning as the reserve cluster.

CCUS is only one of the many technologies we need to develop through our energy transition to Net Zero.

With this in mind, it is great to see COP26 finally come to Glasgow and to welcome national leaders from around the world.

And I’m proud that the UK is leading the world with what BBC’s Energy and Environment Analyst, Roger Harrabin, described as, ‘the most advanced plan from any major nation.’

Building on the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan, the UK Net Zero Strategy will see the mobilisation of £26 billion of government investment, the unlocking of £90 billion of private investment and supporting over 400,000 well-paid jobs in green industries by 2030.

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