This week at the Scottish Parliament: Budget for a fairer Scotland given Holyrood backing

This week, MSPs voted to pass the final stage of the SNP Scottish Government’s budget for the coming financial year – securing a cash boost for the NHS while offering economic stability in the face of Tory Brexit chaos.

With Westminster in complete chaos, the SNP has delivered certainty and stability for Scotland’s economy with a budget that protects our cherished health service and supports our schools.

The SNP has committed £729 million for health and care services while spending on NHS frontline boards is rising by £430 million.

SNP Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has also announced an £8 billion investment in Scotland’s education system, £606 million for Scotland’s colleges and more than £1 billion for our universities.

As part of the SNP’s plan to almost double the paid-for provision of childcare to 1140 hours from August 2020 for all 3 and 4 year olds and eligible 2 year olds, the budget also commits £500 million to support expansion of early learning services and facilities across Scotland – helping drive Scotland forward on its path to create a more prosperous and equal society for all.

This budget also confirms Scotland as the fairest taxed part of the UK – keeping council tax increases below the 5% cap in England while ensuring 55% of income taxpayers will pay less in Scotland than they would elsewhere in the UK.

Warning of 7% fall in GDP after ‘No Deal’ Brexit

A ‘No Deal’ Brexit could have a dramatic impact on Scotland’s economy, with the potential for national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to fall by up to 7%, according to a new report by the Scottish Government’s Chief Economist.

Rural industries are most at risk, with agriculture, food and fishing sectors set to be worst hit by the impact of a no-deal Brexit. In some areas of Scotland, a no-deal outcome will expose upwards of 25% of the local workforce to serious economic shock and possible job losses.

Previous research has already shown the damage of the Tories’ proposed Brexit deal, which would see a 6% fall in GDP by 2031, costing each person in Scotland £1,600.

However, a no-deal Brexit is not inevitable.

We know that Theresa May’s deal is dead in the water, with even her own party refusing to accept it. The SNP has fought tooth and nail to seek an extension to the Article 50 process, and find compromise to protect Scotland’s interests.

But Scotland is being ignored by Westminster and it’s no wonder people have completely lost trust the UK Government.

While Labour and the Tories continue to ignore Scotland’s interests and stand in the way of us making decisions over our future, more and more people are drawn to the opportunities and hope for the future that independence offers.

Tory MSP claims “there is no such thing as a Bedroom Tax”

During a meeting of Holyrood’s Social Security Committee, Michelle Ballantyne claimed that “there’s no such thing as a bedroom tax,” in a shocking dismissal of the Tory policy which affected 80,000 Scots, and drove thousands into poverty.

Michelle Ballantyne has previously refuted clear evidence that her party is causing surging foodbank demand, since admitted by DWP boss Amber Rudd.

The SNP has mitigated against the bedroom tax since it was introduced and will spend more than £61 million through Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) next year to do so again  – helping protect people from this shocking tax that puts people at risk of rent arrears and homelessness.

Instead of dismissing the two-child cap, or suggesting that the poor shouldn’t have children, perhaps the Tories should be congratulating the SNP for mitigating these harmful policies, and supporting those families affected by them.

World leading legislation to tackle fuel poverty

 This week, Holyrood gave its approval to a bill that will tackle fuel poverty – setting a target to reduce of fuel poverty in Scotland to no more than 5% by 2040. The SNP bill also creates a new definition for fuel poverty which will work for people across Scotland, especially those on low incomes.

With this ground breaking legislation, Scotland is one of the few countries in the world to define fuel poverty and set a goal towards eradicating it.

The SNP is working hard to tackle fuel poverty, helping to transform people’s lives – making Scotland’s homes warmer, greener and more energy efficient.

However, the Tories must do more. It’s unacceptable that cruel benefit reforms and rising fuel costs are sadly forcing more and more people across Scotland into poverty.