The past 12 months have seen continued Westminster cuts and the damaging impact of a Tory Brexit – but the SNP has chosen a different path and delivered for everyone in Scotland.
Here’s just 9 ways that we’ve stood up for Scotland in 2017.
1. Empowering Scotland’s schools
This year we continued to invest in raising attainment in our schools, with £120 million going direct to headteachers this year alone. And thanks to this new investment, the number of teachers has increased by 543 between 2016 and 2017.
2. Protecting Scotland’s NHS with record health funding
The health budget was over £13 billion this year – £3.6 billion more than when we took office. The number of people working in our NHS has reached a record high too – with 12,400 more staff than when we took office.
3. Standing up for Scottish industry
This year, working with partners, the Scottish Government helped secure a deal to ensure fabrication firm BiFab avoided administration. Ferguson shipyard on the Clyde, saved with SNP government support in 2014, also delivered the first of two new low-carbon ferries in November.
To secure an innovative manufacturing future for Scotland, we’re also investing £8.9 million in a Lightweight Manufacturing Centre in Renfrew, as a first step towards the establishment of a National Manufacturing Institute in Renfrewshire.
4. Investing in jobs and our economy
In 2017, the number of people in work has reached a record high and Scotland is outperforming the UK on unemployment and female employment rates. This year we also achieved our ambition to reduce youth unemployment by 40 per cent – four years early.
5. Making Scotland’s voice stronger at Westminster
This year at Westminster we’ve worked to oppose a damaging Brexit that would risk jobs and our economy, by arguing the case for keeping the UK in the Single Market.
We have also continued to fight for the Tory government to deliver women born in the 1950s the pension they are due. This year we led a debate on the issue, securing cross-party support for transitional arrangements to right this wrong.
And we have continued to fight Westminster’s austerity agenda and welfare cuts, including the disastrous roll-out of Universal Credit and the callous Rape Clause.
6. Delivering new support for families
In August Scotland’s Baby Box was rolled-out across the country and all pregnant women now receive free vitamins, ensuring all children get the best possible start in life.
We’ve also announced new details of our plan to almost double provision of early years education and childcare: with 11,000 more staff to be recruited and investment doubled by the end of this Parliament.
7. Delivered vital infrastructure
The Queensferry Crossing, Scotland’s largest infrastructure project in a generation, was opened in August this year. This year we’ve also completed the M8 missing link – connecting Glasgow to Edinburgh with continuous motorway for the first time – and the first section of the £3 billion A9 dualling project has been completed.
A new milestone was also reached on affordable home building – with over 70,000 affordable homes delivered since the SNP came to office.
And over the next year we will invest £4 billion in improving our vital infrastructure – part of a £20 billion investment in this Scottish Parliament term.
8. Announced plans to cut tax for 7 in 10 income taxpayers
The Scottish Government’s draft budget for next year will mean that seven out of 10 people – including everyone earning under £33,000 – will pay less tax than they do now. And most Scots will pay less tax than if they lived in rest of the UK.
By making our tax system even fairer and more progressive, we can invest more in our schools and hospitals. Our reforms will raise an additional £164 million to mitigate UK budget cuts and protect our vital public services.
9. Enhanced Scotland’s position on the global stage
Scotland’s outward looking approach has helped deliver progressive policies at home as well as boosting our reputation internationally.
This year Nicola Sturgeon spoke at the UN climate change conference in Bonn and Scotland hosted the Arctic Circle forum for the first time – further enhancing Scotland’s reputation on climate change.