Budget will support jobs, public services and families
Scotland’s Budget Bill for 2014-15 published.
Scotland’s budget will support the economy, invest in public services and protect Scotland’s people from the worst effects of the UK Government’s programme of welfare reform, Finance Secretary John Swinney said today as the Budget Bill for 2014-15 was published.
Mr Swinney emphasised that the Budget Bill, which will have its stage one debate next week, confirms funding in 2014-15 to support the Scottish Government’s recent commitments of :
- £55m over two years to expand the provision of free school meals;
- £59m over two years to provide additional childcare places – taking the total additional funding for childcare to around £250m over two years
- £77m over two years to further enhance the competitiveness of the Scotland’s business rates regime; and
- £20m to offer further help to those affected by the UK Government’s bedroom tax in 2014-15
Mr Swinney also expressed his concern that, despite the strengths of Scotland’s economy, Westminster decisions are cutting the Scottish Government’s discretionary spending power by more than 11 per cent in real terms over five years with the Chancellor having confirmed additional cuts to come.
Publishing the Budget Bill in Parliament, Mr Swinney said:
“This budget demonstrates the benefits of decisions being made in Scotland, by those who care most about its future.
“The budget will help us to ensure Scotland is the best place for our children to grow up, that we offer the most competitive environment for business within the UK and that people in Scotland are protected from the worst effects of Westminster’s welfare cuts.
“The budget confirms the funding needed to deliver the Scottish Government’s commitments to expand the provision of free schools meals and childcare, to offer the most competitive business rates regime in the UK and help those affected by Westminster’s bedroom tax.
“Within our limited powers this Government is doing everything possible to tackle the effects of Westminster’s cuts to the Scottish budget on our economy, their damaging welfare reform agenda and their relentless austerity agenda.
“This is shown by this week’s GDP figures which highlight that economic recovery is continuing to strengthen. During July to September of 2013, the total output in the economy grew by 0.7 per cent, while on an annual basis, GDP grew by 2.1 per cent compared to the same quarter in 2012.
“The actions I have taken in this budget outline the values and priorities of the Scottish Government. Through this Budget, we will drive forward investment in our economy, protect our NHS, invest in our young people and businesses and protect the most vulnerable.
“This is the last Budget before Scotland has the opportunity to choose full fiscal and economic powers for Scotland in a referendum of independence. With the full powers of independence the Scottish Government could do yet more to strengthen our economy, to create more jobs and to make the kind of transformational investment that would help thousands of people back into work . That is the opportunity on offer to the people of Scotland in 2014.”
To support the economy the Budget Bill 2014-15 published today and the spending plans for 2015-16 published in September 2013 will:
• Secure £8bn of infrastructure investment over the next two years
• Provide £190m over two years to increase early learning and childcare to 600 hours
• Invest more than £1.3 billion in affordable housing
• Maintain the most competitive set of business rates reliefs in the UK, worth around £570 million a year
• Expand the Small Business Bonus Scheme to allow and estimated additional 4,000 premises to benefit
• Cap the increase in next year’s business rates poundage at 2 per cent
To help our people and communities to thrive the Scottish Government will:
• Provide at least £68m in each of the next two years to mitigate the impact of UK welfare cuts plus £20m this year and again in 2014-15 to limit the impact of the bedroom tax
• Provide a £114 million package for young people over two years, including giving every one of Scotland’s P1 to P3 children the option of a free meal in school
• Invest £522m in colleges next year rising to £526m in 2015-16
• Maintain a council tax freeze across Scotland
• Continue its social wage commitments including free prescriptions, concessionary travel, free personal care and the Scottish living wage
To support Public Services the Scottish Government will:
• Protect the NHS budget
• Protect the Local Government budget
• Continue support for the three Change Funds, driving a shift to more preventative approaches
• Provide £120m funding in 2015-16 to assist health and social care integration