LAST week’s UK Government’s budget confirmed many people’s worst fears.

In every part of Scotland, the Tories ongoing austerity will hit people in pocket as the price of living continues to rise.

For the richest earners across the rest of the UK to be given a tax cut - when families on low incomes continue to be squeezed – is totally unacceptable.

The UK Government’s budget was supposed to bring austerity to an end, but in the event it simply prolonged the savage cuts to public spending over which they have presided.

Scotland’s block grant – the allocation made for devolved responsibilities under the remit of the Scottish Parliament – will be almost £2billion lower in real terms next year than it was when they first came to power.

Measures to address the manifest failings of the Tories’ flagship welfare reforms, Universal Credit, do not come close to going far enough.

Analysis by the Resolution Foundation shows that over three quarters of the £12bn in welfare cuts announced after the 2015 election remain government policy, hammering many of the most vulnerable people in society.

With half of the welfare cuts that will hit family budgets yet to be rolled out, the budget did nothing to fix the fundamental flaws in Universal Credit.

It failed to scrap to the two-child cap and continues the benefit freeze which will take £1.5bn from those who can afford to lose it least from next April.

In stark contrast to this the SNP’s vision of hope and optimism rejects this path of a divided and uncaring society. We aim for a fairer and inclusive country where the most vulnerable are cared for and everyone is welcome and given the opportunity to succeed.

The prospect of a hard Tory Brexit continues to be a serious threat to our economy and to household incomes. The SNP has consistently argued that the only acceptable deal for Scotland – which, after all, voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU – is one which retains the Single Market and Customs Union.

The UK Government's own analysis shows that leaving the Single Market and Customs Union could hit Scottish GDP by up to 9 per cent, putting 80,000 jobs on the line, and costing Scotland up to £12.7bn a year: the equivalent of £2,300 for every person in the country.

Short of staying in the EU, as Scotland voted overwhelmingly for, the best and only way to protect jobs and prosperity is to remain in the single market and customs union – which is eight times the size of the UK market alone.

This Tory Government has been a disaster for Scotland – ignoring our democratic wishes and undermining public services through brutal budgetary restraints of which last week’s budget is just the latest.

In Scotland, we now have, and will maintain, a different tax model which sees people north of the border pay less than tax than others in the rest of the UK.

Progressive changes like these by the Scottish Government, including having those with the broadest shoulders to contributing a little more, allows greater investment in our NHS, schools and vital public services and offers hope in the face of continued Tory austerity.