Today Nicola Sturgeon gave her address to the SNP Spring Conference – our biggest ever pre-election conference.
The speech was packed with announcements. Here’s what you need to know.
A new initiative to build support for independence
This summer the SNP will embark on a new initiative to build support for independence.
Nicola outlined the next steps to build a strong majority for independence – to hear and address the concerns of those who weren’t convinced to vote for independence in 2014. That is how the 45 per cent of September 2014 will be turned into resounding yes vote.
New funding for low-income families to give every child the best start in life
Right now, low income families can qualify for the Sure Start Maternity Grant – a payment of £500 on the birth of a child to help meet the essential costs of looking after a new-born baby. An SNP Scottish Government will use new powers coming to the Scottish Parliament to replace the Sure Start Maternity Grant with an expanded Maternity and Early Years Allowance. We will:
– Increase the payment for the birth of a first child, from £500 to £600;
– restore payments for second and subsequent children – cut by the Coalition Government in 2010 – of £300;
– and, introduce payments of £250 for low-income families at other stages in children’s lives – when they begin nursery and again when they start school.
Extend free meals to 2,3, and 4 year olds in nursery
The SNP Scottish Government has already delivered free school meals for primaries 1 to 3, benefitting 135,000 children across Scotland and saving families around £380 a year for each child. If re-elected, when we expand early years education to include full day provision, we will also extend free meals will be extended to 2, 3 ad 4 year olds in our nurseries.
An extra £750 million to raise attainment of the most disadvantaged young people
The Scottish Attainment Fund – introduced by the SNP in government – is helping to improve literacy and numeracy in over 300 primary schools in Scotland’s most deprived communities.
An extra £100 million in funding raised by progressive changes to council tax will see the reach of the Scottish Attainment Fund extended to every part of Scotland. Funding will go directly to head teachers, enabling them to invest in extra teachers, classroom assistants, equipment and additional learning support.
Increased NHS funding every year in the next parliament
Under the SNP funding for Scotland’s NHS is at record levels – now £13 billion. If re-elected an SNP government will continue to increase the NHS resource budget in real terms every year of the next parliament.
An additional £50 million for cancer treatment
If re-elected in May an SNP Scottish Government will invest an extra £50 million to help more people beat cancer, with new state-of-the-art radiotherapy equipment and an extra 100 radiotherapy specialists.
Superfast digital broadband for every community in Scotland
The Scottish Government’s current Digital Scotland programme will deliver broadband to 95 per cent of premises across Scotland by the end of 2017. The remaining 5 per cent will be in some of the hardest to reach areas of rural and remote Scotland.
If re-elected an SNP government will make sure no community is left behind. Over the next Parliament superfast digital broadband will be delivered to all premises across Scotland.