Responding to Chancellor George Osborne's Budget this afternoon, Jonathon Shafi, National Organiser for RISE - Scotland's Left Alliance, said:

"Osborne's budget today, which set-out an additional £3.5bn in austerity cuts, reaffirmed the need for Scotland to have a rolling mandate for another independence referendum.

"Without MSPs elected to argue unambiguously for another referendum at the time of Scotland's choosing, Holyrood will lack the political leverage to hold one without Westminster's consent.

"The budget this afternoon confirmed how badly skewed the Tories' priorities are.

"As they slash spending on welfare and benefits, the Tories are cutting corporation tax and capital gains tax, to the benefit of big companies and wealthy homeowners.

"Despite what Osborne claims, the fundamentals of the British economy are not strong. In fact, with a massive current account deficit, huge levels of household debt, weak wage growth, and low industrial productivity, Britain is the worst prepared of any major country for another global crisis.

"Osborne knows this. That's why he's accelerating his austerity programme: the next crash will be as bad or worse than the last, and the UK isn't equipped to cope with it.

"The more he starves the public sector of funds and limits long-term investment, the weaker the British economy gets.

"Scotland voted overwhelmingly against the Tories last year. Now it's being held hostage to Osborne's austerity obsession.

"As the May elections approach, RISE will take the fight to the Tories - and assert Scotland's right to independence regardless of what Westminster says."