THE SNP minority government has secured the support of the Scottish Greens and the Liberal Democrats to get its budget for next financial year approved by parliament tomorrow (Tuesday).
Holyrood will for the first time cover the full running cost of Shetland’s internal ferry service, with the government committing a total of £10.8 million for the council – an increase of over £5 million on the previous year.
In previous years, it has always been the Greens who helped the SNP getting its budget over the line by winning major concessions to further their policy priorities.
This year, both the Greens and the Lib Dems said they have done deals with the government.
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said the budget would now provide direct payments of up to £330 to around half a million low income households this year who have been hit hardest by the pandemic.
Children and young people currently entitled to school meals will receive them in the holidays and free school meals will be expanded to all primary age children by next summer.
The budget deal also secures an enhanced public sector pay deal. Public sector staff on under £25k will get an £800 increase, equivalent to four per cent.
Harvie said: “The Scottish Greens have been clear that the Scottish budget needed to do more to tackle rising poverty and ensure a green recovery from the pandemic.
“I’m delighted that once again our constructive approach has delivered real results for the people who need it most.
“The Covid household relief payment will direct money to those households who have struggled in this crisis, providing funding for essential supplies.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats said they had secured more than £300 million of budget support for mental health, education and councils.
Scottish Lib Dems leader Willie Rennie said his party would back this year’s Scottish budget in exchange for additional support such as:
- An extra £120 million for mental health services to pay for new services in communities.
- An extra £60 million to help education bounce back with smaller class sizes.
- Additional support for businesses and the release of money for local authorities.
Rennie said: “Scottish Liberal Democrats have been engaged with SNP ministers since the draft budget was published in January.
“We think that people expect parties to work together in the middle of a pandemic. Our focus has been to put recovery first.
“We have highlighted the need for business support, an education bounce back plan, and better mental health services, given the pressure we know that the virus crisis has put on people.
“As a result of those constructive discussions, the Budget Bill was substantially amended. Those changes were announced by the Finance Secretary in the stage one debate ten days ago and put onto the face of the Budget Bill at the parliamentary committee this morning.
“As a result of discussions since then, further changes have been agreed which allow Scottish Liberal Democrat MSPs to support the budget at its final stage tomorrow.”
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