SNP politicians in Stirling have welcomed the Scottish Government’s recently announced draft budget.
The announcement by Finance Secretary Derek MacKay sets out the SNP Scottish Government’s spending plans for 2017/18. Details include:
– Freezing the basic rate of income tax, protecting the income of the lowest paid earners.
– £120 million in additional funding from the Scottish Government to tackle closing the attainment gap.
– Protecting Scotland’s policing budget in real terms.
– Protecting the Fire and Rescue Service budget in cash terms.
– A record £304 million invested into NHS Scotland – more than any other party pledged to invest.
– 32.3% increase in funding to mental health services.
– Over £60 million committed to support the doubling of free childcare from 600 to 1,140 hours.
– Supporting free further/higher education.
– Protecting free prescriptions.
– Committing to working with others to fund a transformational City Region Deal for Stirling.
For local authorities, the budgetary plans signal an overall increase in funding to Scotland’s 32 local governments and services of over £240 million. This includes:
– £120 million provided directly to schools to work to close the attainment gap – funded by the Scottish Government, not through local taxation.
– An additional £111 million will be raised across Scotland with Council Tax banding reforms. This revenue will be spent entirely within the local authority area it is collected.
– £250 million fund in NHS support for social care.
– £107 million to meet the full year costs of paying social care workers the real Living Wage.
– The flexibility for local governments to increase Council Tax by a maximum of 3% – the Scottish Government is also reviewing the devolution of partial income tax powers to local authorities.
Commenting on the budget, Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford said:
“Closing the attainment gap, reducing child poverty and ensuring equality of access to higher education, will generate long term benefits for our economy and public finances. That is why the Scottish Government are prioritising education and providing the resources to match.
“This budget delivers the Government’s commitment to secure the future of Scotland’s health service. Next year they will invest an additional £300 million in NHS resource budgets – £120 million more than inflation – a massive step toward our promise to Scotland’s health service.
“The Scottish Government budget also provides a strong settlement for local government. This means Stirling Council will see an increase in their overall spending power for 2017/18 despite cuts to the Scottish Government budget. Councils will also keep the full value of the revenue from Council Tax re-banding – every penny raised locally will be spent locally as councils see fit.”
Commenting on income tax changes, Stirling MP Steven Paterson said:
“This is the first budget where the Scottish Government has had the ability to set its own rates and bands on income tax and what has been proposed in these draft proposals are measured and fair. Whilst protecting the lowest paid workers from any increase in the tax they pay, the Tory tax cut that we have seen in the rest of the UK for the top 10% of earners cannot be justified at a time of enforced austerity. Raising the higher band threshold in line with inflation is a fair and measured way to ensure that people are fairly taxed and our services are properly funded.”
Stirling SNP Council Group Leader, Councillor Scott Farmer said:
“This is a budget that supports local services whilst protecting low-income families – who have already faced a substantial rise in the cost of living in recent years. Despite the Scottish budget having been hit with years of austerity Tory UK Government, the SNP Scottish Government’s budget sees an increase in overall funding to local authorities and services of over £240 million over the next year.
“Unfortunately, we have seen nothing but cynical political spin – particularly from Labour politicians. Councillor Boyd would do well to get on with the job of delivering for the people she is supposed to represent, rather than carping form the side-lines with her Tory colleagues.”
SNP Group Finance Spokesperson, Councillor Gerry McLaughlan added:
“The Scottish Government has gone further than any political opponent called for in terms of protecting finances raised by local authorities and financially supporting our services. With all funds from the Council Tax reform to be spent by the local authority that collected them, Councils across Scotland will have an additional £111 million through this revenue stream alone.
“Tackling inequality in attainment in our schools is a key principle of this budget and funding directly from the Scottish Government will see St Mary’s and Bannockburn head teachers receive over £50,000 to spend at they see fit to support their pupils. For the whole of Stirling, that means that over £1.2m extra will be available to support head teachers. The reality of the budget is not only in funding for our services, but in working to ensure everyone has a fair start in life.”