Today’s budget demonstrates the benefits of decisions being made in Scotland by those who care most about Scotland and the challenges we face as a result of decisions being made in Westminster, Finance Secretary John Swinney said today.
Setting out the two year budget to parliament and additional measures to mitigate some of the worst effects of Westminster’s welfare cuts, John Swinney said the plans for the next two years would support jobs and growth, protect Scotland’s people and invest in public services.
Despite the strengths of Scotland’s economy, Westminster decisions have cut the Scottish Government’s budget by close to 11% in real terms over five years and capital spending by over 26%.
To support the economy the budget will:
* Fully fund 125 additional hours of early learning and childcare to a total of over £190 million
* Drive investment in affordable housing of over £1.35 billion over 4 years
* Provide £24m for a National Performance Centre for Sport
* Secure £8bn of infrastructure investment over the next two years
To help our people and communities to thrive the budget will:
* Invest £522m in colleges next year rising to £526m in 2015-16
* Provide at least £68m in each of the next two years to mitigate the impact of UK welfare cuts and a further £20m this financial year to limit the impact of the bedroom tax
* £33m per year for the Scottish Welfare Fund
* Maintain a council tax freeze across Scotland
* Maintain the council tax reduction scheme
* Continue the social wage commitments including free prescriptions, concessionary travel and free personal care
To support Public Services the budget will:
* Protect the NHS budget
* Protect the Local Government budget
* Maintain a Scottish living wage for public sector workers
* Reject UK plans to reform pay progression
* Continued support for the three Change Funds, driving a shift to more preventative approaches
* Provide £120m funding in 2015-16 to assist health and social care integration
Setting out the budget to parliament John Swinney said:
“This budget demonstrates the benefits of decisions being made in Scotland, by those who care most about its future .
“Scotland is a prosperous nation. We have paid more in tax per head in each of the last 30 years than the rest of the UK.
“Within our limited powers this Government is doing everything possible to tackle the effects of Westminster’s 11% real terms cut to the Scottish budget, their draconian welfare reform agenda and their cut to the public services we all rely on.
“Westminster’s programme of welfare cuts is taking money out of the Scottish economy, adding to the burden on our public services and hitting household budgets. Despite this, the decisive and distinctive measures we have taken in Scotland are delivering results.
“Scotland’s recovery is not happening because of austerity, as the Chancellor claims. Recovery is taking place in spite of austerity. We cannot, however, take recovery for granted and must be focused on addressing real challenges in the economy.
“The actions I have taken today demonstrate the values and priorities of the Scottish Government. We drive forward investment in our economy, we protect our NHS, we invest in our young people and businesses and we protect the most vulnerable.
“In addition, this Government will take immediate steps to deal with the iniquitous effect of the bedroom tax. I will provide £20 million to fund Shelter Scotland’s proposal to help those struggling most with the cost of the tax. This funding will enable local authorities to increase discretionary housing payments to meet some of the implications of the Bedroom Tax.
“With the full fiscal and economic powers of independence the Scottish Government could do yet more to strengthen our economy and create more jobs. This budget makes clear the benefit