Scottish budget plans for fairer Scotland passed by Holyrood

Today, the Scottish Government’s 2019-20 budget plans have been formally approved by the Scottish Parliament.

Greenock and Inverclyde MSP, Stuart McMillan, has supported the Finance Secretary’s proposals since he presented them to Parliament in December 2018, with some of the key budget promises including extra funding for education, the health service and infrastructure.

To ensure the budget passed, Derek Mackay MSP struck a deal with the Scottish Greens last month, which includes an agreement to increase core local government funding by £90m. It also secures SNP support for a Green amendment to the Transport Bill to give local authorities new powers to introduce a workplace parking levy.

The Scottish Government has also committed in principle to introducing a charge on disposable drinks cups as part of the deal, which Mr McMillan’s resolution at the SNP’s 2017 annual conference to replicate the 5p bag charge for single use cups was passed.

Commenting, the local SNP MSP said:

“I’m delighted that the 2019-20 budget has been passed as it delivers an extra £730m for health and care services, ensures the majority of Scottish taxpayers pay less income tax than they would elsewhere in the UK, and will deliver £435m of direct assistance through Scotland’s social security interventions.

“The Scottish Government is a minority administration, so it’s incumbent on other parties to enter into dialogue with the Finance Secretary and present genuine proposals.

“The Scottish Greens were the only party to do this, so it’s the height of hypocrisy for opposition parties to complain about the deal that has been struck when they didn’t even bother to join the conversation.

“I’m pleased that this deal sees a renewed promise from the SNP to implement a disposable drinks cups levy. I have called for the 5p bag charge scheme to be replicated for disposable cups in Scotland in a bid to reduce our nation’s single-use waste. Considering the number of plastic bags handed out in stores fell by 80% in the first year of the 5p bag charge, equivalent to 650 million carrier bags, I truly believe a charge on single-use cups would have a positive impact.

“Crucially, this budget offers stability in the face of the chaos and confusion of a Tory Brexit, and will dedicate almost £100m to continue mitigating the callous Bedroom Tax and UK Government welfare cuts.

“Businesses will also benefit from these plans, as the Scottish Government’s total business rates relief package is worth more than £750m – meaning 90% of businesses in Scotland will pay a lower poundage than anywhere else in the UK.

“In education, £180m will be provided to raise attainment in schools, including £120m direct to head teachers to spend on closing the attainment gap. Scotland’s colleges will receive £600m of investment, and an extra £385m will be spent on early leaning and childcare.

“Overall, this budget protects public services, supports the economy and helps build a fairer society.

“It’s a shame that opposition parties cannot see that, especially when they failed to provide their own budget proposals, but regardless, the SNP Scottish Government will always work to protect Scotland’s interests and needs, no matter what financial or political climate we find ourselves in.”

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