SNP/Green budget deal passed by parliament

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 1 February 2018 in News

Deal means £170m more for councils, more public sector workers getting a three per cent pay rise and adjustments to income tax plans

Derek Mackay - Scottish parliament

Derek Mackay has successfully navigated the 2018-19 budget through a stage one debate in the Scottish Parliament after a pledge for an additional £170m in funding for local government won backing from the Scottish Greens.

Mackay also widened the scope of public sector pay rises, so that 75 per cent of workers will see a pay increase, compared to the 51 per cent figure proposed in the draft plan.

With SNP plans coming under fire from both the Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Labour, Scottish Green party co-convener Patrick Harvie claimed opposition parties “continue to posture from the sidelines” while the Scottish Greens were “leading the change in Scottish politics”.

The budget plans were approved by 69 votes to 56, with two Scottish Liberal Democrat MSPs also voting in favour after receiving assurances of an additional £10.5m to help fund inter-island ferries in Orkney and Shetland.

Following negotiations with the Greens, Mackay promised that investment in low carbon infrastructure, which will rise from 21 per cent of planned infrastructure investment in 2017-18 to 29 per cent in 2018-19, will continue to rise year-on-year.

Mackay agreed to establish a new community rail fund to reopen stations and build new lines, alongside an extra £2million for energy efficient improvements.

Pointing to an “anomaly” in the draft budget plans, which would have seen those earning between £43,525 and £58,500 paying less tax, the Finance Secretary outlined proposals to change the higher rate threshold to £43,438, rather than £44,274, which he claimed would raise an additional £55m in taxation.

But Scottish Tory MSP Murdo Fraser claimed the budget would hit “families that are struggling to get by”.

He said: “The ever-faithful Patrick Harvie has once again saved the Scottish National Party’s bacon. The always-willing Scottish Greens are there to do their masters’ bidding.

“The wholly owned subsidiary has had its orders from head office and, after the usual pretence of playing hardball, with choreography that the greatest showman would be proud of, it fell sweetly into line exactly as was planned all along.”

The agreement also faced criticism from Scottish Labour MSP James Kelly.

He said: “The grubby deal that has been announced today by Derek Mackay, the Green-SNP deal, just doesn't cut it. Scotland's communities have been sold short by the SNP and Greens".

Speaking in the chamber, Mackay said the budget would bring an additional £400m for the NHS, support construction of 50,000 new homes, back small businesses and innovation and provide essential funding for frontline police and fire services.

He said: “As a parliament of minorities, we must work across the chamber to find compromise and consensus in order to give support, sustainability and stimulus to our economy and to our public services.

“This budget invests record amounts in our NHS, supports our efforts to improve attainment in our schools, invests in our economy with support for infrastructure, for broadband and for innovation, and supports our ambitions to tackle climate change.”

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