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20/01/15 11:22

Media Briefing - Tuesday 20th January

Post-Cabinet Media Briefing by the Scottish Government Spokesperson (SGS) and the First Minister’s Special Adviser (FMSA): Tuesday, January 20, 2014

The SGS welcomed journalists to the briefing and provided an update following the meeting of the Scottish Cabinet.

The SGS informed journalists that Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has called for the UK Government to raise the plight of Scottish dairy producers at next week’s European Council meeting.

Cabinet noted Sir Peter Housden’s decision to leave the Scottish Government after five years of service. The First Minister registered her personal thanks to Sir Peter for all the work undertaken during his time at the Scottish Government and wished him well for the future.

The Health Secretary provided an update on delayed discharge and confirmed to Cabinet that she had announced this morning an additional £100 million funding to tackle the problem. Ms Robison confirmed the money would be invested over three years to ease pressure on the system by increasing social care capacity.

The First Minister updated Cabinet on the actions taken by the Scottish Government to meet challenges in the oil and gas sector. She confirmed she has announced the set-up of a task force chaired by Lena Wilson to examine the issue. She also confirmed the task force will meet by the end of this month and report to the energy advisory board that will convene as part of the Cabinet schedule when it meets in Aberdeen on February 16. The First Minister also confirmed that she would raise the issue with the UK Government tax regime for oil and gas at her next meeting with the Prime Minister which is anticipated to take place this week. Cabinet also agreed to make further representations to the energy companies to ensure that the current reduction in oil prices is passed on to consumers.

The FMSA added that this is a reiteration of a letter previously issued by Fergus Ewing to the major energy providers urging them to ensure that consumers see the benefit of falling wholesale oil prices reflected in their household bills.

The FMSA advised journalists that Mr Swinney gave a brief update to Cabinet ahead of the budget proceedings tomorrow where he will be giving an update in Parliament on the Scottish Governments plans for Land and Buildings Transaction tax.

When asked if the proposals were going to be more generous the FMSA advised that he couldn’t get in to any specific details, but journalists can refer to everything that is in the public domain already for the general direction of the policy. He added that as already outlined previously the vast majority of homebuyers in Scotland will be better off than they would have been under the existing stamp duty system, with first time buyers substantially better off.

Asked for further details on the First Minister’s meeting with the Prime Minister the SGS advised nothing had been confirmed yet but it was understood that the Prime Minister would be visiting Parliament on Thursday (January 22).

When asked what stage the Land and Buildings Transaction tax Bill was at the SGS confirmed it was at stage one.