Greens and Lib Dems agree to support budget
The Scottish Government has secured a budget deal with the Scottish Greens and Lib Dems ahead of the final vote on the bill tomorrow.
The agreement with the Greens will see NHS and other public sector staff given a pay rise of two per cent (up from one per cent) if they earn under £40,000.
Public sector workers on the lowest salaries (under £25,000) will also receive an £800 increase.
The Lib Dems have secured a £20m top up to the Pupil Equity Fund and extra cash for local authorities.
Finance secretary Kate Forbes said: “Every penny made available to us to tackle the pandemic has been allocated. These remain difficult times, but this budget puts us on the path to a fairer, greener and more prosperous Scotland.”
The Green deal also includes plans to:
- extend concessionary travel for young people to under 22s (a deal with the party last year will see free bus travel introduced for under 19s later this year)
- expand free school meals to all primary school children in term time, to be phased in over the next two years
- create of a pandemic relief payment to support low income households.
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “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 Scottish Lib Dems deal includes:
- a just transition training fund for the North East
- a commitment to protect specialised eye services in Lothian.
The party backed the bill at stage one after coming to an agreement on mental health and business support.
Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said: "These proposals show the impact that Liberal Democrat MSPs can make, balancing important national matters with targeted local support for our constituents and putting the recovery first."
The Scottish Conservatives have confirmed they will vote against the budget as it did not meet the party's demands on free school meals or council funding.
Leader Douglas Ross said: “It does not deliver on the Scottish Parliament vote to introduce free school meals this year, as the Scottish Conservatives proposed in September last year. It fails to fully support local services with a fair funding deal for councils.
“We cannot endorse an SNP budget when they have plans to wreck Scotland’s recovery by continuing their push for indyref2 as early as this year.”
Scottish Labour had offered to support the budget in exchange for a pay rise for social care workers.
Leader Anas Sarwar said: "Their efforts have saved lives and ensured the most vulnerable in our communities have been cared for, which goes to the very heart of a compassionate society. We applauded them and now it’s time to recognise and reward them with a fair pay deal in this year’s budget."