SNP crisis talks as Humza Yousaf 'faces £1bn Budget black hole'

SNP crisis talks as Humza Yousaf ‘runs out of money’ to fund vow to freeze council tax – with separatists blaming Jeremy Hunt’s tax cuts

Humza Yousaf is set to hold a special meeting of his Cabinet later today as his Scottish Government struggles to plug a £1billion black hole.

The Scottish First Minister is due to meet with his top team for a second time this week in a rare move.

Mr Yousaf and his SNP ministers will continue frantic talks over the upcoming Scottish Budget, which is scheduled for publication on 19 December.

It has been widely reported that Mr Yousaf’s SNP-led administration is struggling to make its £60billion tax and spending plans work.

The Scottish First Minister is said to be determined to meet his promise to freeze council tax for Scots, despite facing a £1billion shortfall.

The Scottish Tories have accused the SNP of having their sums ‘all over the place’.

Mr Yousaf’s party has blamed Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement for putting more pressure on their spending plans.

Humza Yousaf is set to hold a special meeting of his Cabinet later today as his Scottish Government struggles to plug a £1billion black hole

Speaking last month, SNP finance secretary Shona Robison claimed Mr Hunt’s decisions – which included tax cuts for around 28million workers in the UK – had ‘made my job very difficult’.

She described the Chancellor’s package as a ‘worst case scenario’ for her own Scottish Budget.

Ms Robison has blamed Mr Hunt’s choice to cut taxes, rather than hike spending, for failing to boost Scotland’s spending power through the Barnett formula.

The Scottish Government agreed a number of bumper pay deals with public sector workers in recent months.

Meanwhile, a leading business group has urged Mr Yousaf to use the upcoming Budget to encourage investment.

Tracy Black, director of CBI Scotland, said: ‘Against a tough economic backdrop for everyone, the Scottish Budget marks an important moment for the Scottish Government to outline its ambitions for growth.

‘With business investment now critical to putting Scotland back on a sustainable economic path, we urgently need firms to unleash investment, not try to tough out the difficult months ahead.

‘Access to skills, restrictive planning processes and uncompetitive tax policies are acting as a handbrake on growth, and firms need to see that the Scottish Government is committed to meeting these challenges head-on.

‘We should be more ambitious on business rates, by offering a full freeze across the economy, and committing to rip-up the planning red tape that delays critical green energy and infrastructure projects from getting off the ground.

‘It also means taking a clear-eyed look at the education and skills system to make sure it’s delivering the skills we need for a modern, digital economy.’

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