Nicola Sturgeon must come clean about how many jobs will be lost because of her budget cuts, Scottish Labour said today.

Yesterday the Deputy First Minister John Swinney said claims about job losses have been “utterly exaggerated”. Yet trades unions have said that thousands of jobs will be lost because of the SNP’s budget cuts for next year.

Unite Regional Officer Willie McGonigle said:

“To suggest the Budget cuts will have ‘a minimal impact on jobs or services’ is frankly astounding. We’ve lost 40,000 local government jobs since 2010 and over the next year we will likely lose a further 15,000 as a result of the Scottish Government’s cuts.”

At First Minister’s Questions today Nicola Sturgeon was asked by Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale to set out how many jobs will be lost as a result of the SNP’s budget. The First Minister refused to do so.

Labour produced a plan during the budget process to set a Scottish rate of Income Tax 1p higher than the rate set by George Osborne. This would have increased the Scottish Government’s budget for 2016/17 and stopped the SNP’s cuts to schools and other vital public services. The SNP and the Tories stood shoulder to shoulder to vote against this plan and for more cuts.

Kezia Dugdale said:

“The casual disregard with which John Swinney dismissed those who are losing their jobs left many workers sick to their stomach. To hear Nicola Sturgeon join in the attack on trade unions today is even worse.

Despite the pretence from the government, the reality is that cuts are happening all across the country because of a choice the SNP made. Teachers, classroom assistants and office staff find themselves out of work because of choices the SNP have made.

Nicola Sturgeon should come clean about how many jobs will be lost as a result of her cuts.

With the budget we were faced with a choice between using the powers of this Parliament to invest in the future or imposing more cuts to vital public services. Yet when Nicola Sturgeon had the chance to use the powers to stop cuts to schools and save jobs she bottled it with her austerity budget.”