Kate Forbes promises 'bold and ambitious' Scottish Budget
Finance secretary Kate Forbes has said her annual Budget will help Scotland become “fairer and greener”.
Speaking ahead of delivering her Budget in parliament later, Forbes said she would deliver a “bold and ambitious” package of investment to help Scotland recover from the pandemic and meet the challenge of the climate emergency.
She said: “The Scottish Budget will provide taxpayers with stability and support, set out clearly how we will accelerate our Covid recovery, and crucially, how our spending plans will set Scotland on a new ambitious path.
“It has been a challenging Budget due to the continuing impact of the pandemic, and the uncertainty and worry that Covid poses for us all. This has been confounded by the UK Government’s decision to remove necessary Covid consequential funding at a time when we undeniably need to help our public services.”
She added: “The Scottish Government has taken spending decisions that prioritise supporting people and our vital public services through the twin crises of Covid and the cost of living. It is a budget for Scotland’s future – one that will help us secure a fairer, greener and more prosperous country.”
Today's Budget is the first to be developed in collaboration with the Scottish Greens, now in government with the SNP.
The Scottish Conservatives called for a series of measures to rebuild the economy, including a £631m business support package, comprising a freeze on the poundage rate payable by businesses and a full year of 75 per cent rates relief on the leisure, hospitality, retail, aviation and newspaper sectors.
The party also called on the Scottish Government to pass on £2.1bn in UK health consequentials to Scotland's NHS.
The party's finance spokeswoman, Liz Smith MSP, said: “Scotland’s economy and public services have taken a huge hit during the pandemic, so this budget has to be about recovery.
“The choice for the SNP is stark: stand up for ordinary, hard-working Scots or stand up for their extremist, anti-business Scottish Green coalition partners.
“The SNP have to make the most of the record funding settlement from the UK Chancellor - and the package we’re proposing would do just that.”
Labour have called on the SNP to deliver a “real education recovery,” setting out a series of measures including a £110m plan to tackle Scotland's attainment gap by providing a tutor for every 30 pupils in the 75 most deprived schools in the country.
Thte party's education spokesman, Michael Marra said: “The SNP’s record on education has long been defined by failure, and their pitiful response to the pandemic will only make things worse.
“Their so-called ‘scared mission’ to close the attainment gap is in tatters, and after almost two years their Covid safety strategy for our schools is to open a window.
“As schools are trying to close the yawning inequalities compounded by the pandemic, the SNP are cutting funding for the poorest kids.
“But at this budget, we have the chance to turn the page on years of underfunding and neglect.
“We can deliver a real education recovery, but only if the SNP are willing to show some ambition and work with Scottish Labour to make it happen.”