First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has set out an alternative plan to tackle the economic deficit, by putting fairness at the heart of economic growth, increasing investment and maximising the skills of Scotland’s population.

In a major economic speech at University College London, the First Minister said there should be no “trade off” between reducing the deficit and having a fairer society, with a clear link between economic growth and reducing inequality.

Ms Sturgeon highlighted how successful economic policies such as gender equality and the living wage “have a sense of fairness at their heart” and help grow the economy by ensuring that Scotland maximises the skill and innovation of all its people.

The First Minister set out an alternative to austerity, and said that real term increases in government department spending, limited to half a per cent each year, would see debt reduce as a share of GDP over four years, but allow a further £180 billion investment in infrastructure, skills and education to further boost the economy.

The First Minister also renewed her calls to scrap the renewal of Trident, with the £100bn savings over the next 35 years to be invested back into public services.

The First Minister said:

“The Scottish Government has balanced its budget every single year and that’s something which has required genuinely tough decisions. But by and large, we’ve carried people with us because the policies we’ve adopted have clearly had a sense of fairness at their heart.

“In terms of the UK economy, we believe that debt and the deficit should be reduced as a percentage of GDP but more gradually than either of the largest UK parties is proposing.

“For example, if you limited real terms growth in departmental spending to half a per cent each year it would reduce debt as a share of GDP in every year from 2016-17. But it would also permit a further £180 billion of investment across the UK over the next four years.

“By taking a different approach - by offering an alternative to the austerity agenda - we would ensure that fiscal consolidation is consistent with a wider vision of society. A society which strives to become more equal, as part of becoming more prosperous.

“We simply don’t accept that there’s a trade-off between balancing the books and having a balanced society; fairness and prosperity can go hand in hand. It’s basic common sense that as a society, we will do better if we can benefit from the skill, talent and innovation of all of our people."