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Scottish budget passed by MSPs


Scottish budget passed by MSPs

The Scottish Greens voted with the SNP to formally approve the £40bn spending plan, which includes an additional £95m for local authorities and a free bus travel scheme for people aged 18 and under

The Scottish Government’s 2020/21 budget has passed stage three in the Scottish Parliament by 63 votes to 55.

The Scottish Greens voted with the SNP to formally approve the £40bn spending plan, which includes an additional £95m for local authorities and a free bus travel scheme for people aged 18 and under.

Tax rates are to remain the same as last year, but with the income threshold for the upper rate frozen.

The budget will also include over £15bn for health and care, an £117m investment in mental health services, £270m for rail services and a 60 per cent increase in funding for reducing harm from drug and alcohol.

Scottish Labour, the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Conservatives voted against the budget deal, with the Tories describing it as a “pay more, get less budget”.

Scottish Conservatives shadow finance secretary Donald Cameron said: “It’s a budget that underfunds our vital public services, especially local councils.

“And despite the drugs deaths crisis, it completely neglects the wellbeing of vulnerable addicts who need rehabilitation beds to turn their lives around.

“This bad budget is being made possible by the Greens, who never in the history of this parliament have asked for so much and yet received so little in return for their support.

“This budget categorically fails to meet the needs of the people and businesses of Scotland.”

Scottish Labour finance spokesperson Rhoda Grant said: “Scottish Labour entered discussions with the Scottish Government this year in the hope, if not in expectation, that we could push the Government to invest in Scotland. Instead the SNP squander the public purse and refuse to invest.

“While the SNP boast of not increasing income tax, they heap inflation-busting rises on the regressive council tax, a tax that they promised to abolish over a decade ago. 

“We ask that young people 25 and under travel free on buses. This policy would have helped young people become more independent while also making family travel more affordable.

“Instead the Greens settled for talks about introducing free bus travel for young people eighteen and under.  This short-changes young people because on past performance it is unlikely to happen. 

“We wanted fair funding for Local Government, but they are now facing a £205m real terms cut. 

“This budget is damaging.  It does not invest in the future of Scotland or its people. It does not deal with mismanagement. That is why Scottish Labour cannot support it.”

The Scottish Greens’ environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell said: “This is a historic budget, thanks to the Scottish Greens. Next year over 700,000 young people across Scotland and their families will benefit from free bus travel for under 19s.

“Greens have also provided extra funds for councils which has enabled councils to take proposed cuts off the table, increased the walking and cycling budget to £100m for the first time, won new funds for new rail projects to reach the next stage and a commitment to provide warm homes through energy efficiency measures.

“It seems incredible that other opposition parties could not back a bold transformational move such as this, especially Scottish Labour, who have put tribalism over principle once again. In fact, in the debate Labour’s finance spokesperson even made the baffling claim that free bus travel for under 19s will encourage young people to buy cars. The truth is Labour once again sat on their hands rather than negotiate real change.

“Once again, the Scottish Greens have proved the most effective opposition at Holyrood. Free bus travel for young people joins a growing list of achievements, like introducing a fairer income tax system, winning equal protection for children and securing vital environmental protections.”

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said: “I’m pleased that Parliament has supported this budget which will deliver certainty for our vital public services and local government.

“It supports our ambitious plans to accelerate Scotland’s transition to a net-zero economy and provides a record £15 billion investment for health and social care.

“It will also help us tackle inequalities, deliver first-class public services and ensure no taxpayer in Scotland will pay more income tax on their current income.

“I now hope the UK Government will deliver on its promises in their overdue budget next week.”

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