Stuart McMillan MSP welcomes 2018 Programme for Government

SNP MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde has applauded the Scottish Government’s 2018 Programme for Government which was set out by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today.

Commenting, Mr McMillan said:

“This Programme for Government sets out an ambitious plan that will deliver for people, communities and businesses now and make the investments that will benefit future generations.

“Some of these plans set out in the Programme include delivering the first Best Start Grant payments before Christmas – six months earlier than planned – helping parents on low incomes with £600 on the birth of their first child and £300 on the birth of subsequent children, to buy the pram or other big essentials new families need.

“For health, recruiting 430 new school, college and university counsellors as part of a new package to help support wellbeing and prevent mental ill-health, as well as awarding 147,000 NHS staff a minimum pay rise of 9% over the next three years. This comes alongside record amounts of investment in our NHS to help it adapt to the challenges of a changing society.

“In education, implementing new powers for head teachers, making them the key decision makers in the life of their school as well as supporting 750 new, extended or refurbished nurseries as part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to double the provision of early learning and childcare.

“The UK’s impending departure from the EU cannot be ignored in this year’s Programme for Government, but while it may be impacted by Brexit it will not be defined by it – which is why the Scottish Government will develop an enhanced export plan, backed by £20 million of investment, to help boost the value of our overseas exports and provide additional help to those considering overseas trade.

“Economic growth in Scotland over the last year has been higher than in the rest of the UK. Export of goods have increased by 12% – the fastest growth of any UK nation. Youth and women’s unemployment are lower than in the UK as a whole, and in the last decade Scotland has significant narrowed our productivity gap with the rest of the UK too.

“Measures to protect the environment are also included in the Programme which include rolling out the electrification of Scotland’s roads with 1500 new charge points and £20 million to help people and businesses switch to electric vehicles, as well as reducing our carbon footprint with 500 new ultra low emission vehicles in the public sector.

“Everyone wants to be able to live in a clean and unpolluted communities, and banning the manufacture and sale of plastic-stemmed cotton buds this year will contribute to this desire. The First Minister also committed to designing an effective deposit return scheme to help cut litter and pollution which I warmly welcome.

“The Scottish Government has also reaffirmed a deep commitment to fair work – making payment of the living wage, transparency on gender-equal pay and exclusion of zero-hours contracts criteria for the award of job-related public sector grants.

“These plans only reflect a small portion of work the SNP Scottish Government is committing itself to in this year’s Programme for Government. These plans are bold, progressive and present a clear vision of the kind of country Scotland wants to be.

“The UK’s political climate is dreich – but Scotland’s is most certainly bright.”

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