SNP further slashes utility money

Mr Swinney argued that scrapping the £20million independence referendum budget would not help as the funds were allocated for 2023/24 but the spending cuts had to be made during the current exercise.

But Miles Briggs, social justice and local government secretary for the Scottish Conservatives, said: ‘It is amazing that as part of an ’emergency’ public spending cut of £560m to fund the settlement in the salaries of council workers, the money earmarked for an independence referendum somehow escaped John Swinney’s ax.

“Talk about biased and self-serving priorities. People up and down Scotland who will bear the brunt of it will be rightly furious that no matter how deep the cuts the SNP will still preserve spending on their pet obsession – a constitutional vote which divides most Scots don’t even want to. ”

Liz Smith, the Scottish Conservatives’ shadow finance secretary, has pointed out that any income tax cut Liz Truss introduces in England will lead to additional funding for Scotland through the Westminster block grant.

But Mr Swinney refused to commit to using the money to reduce income tax in Scotland, which is already higher north of the border for anyone earning more than £27,850, saying he would wait to see the details.