Today’s budget will deliver on the aspirations of the people of Scotland for a more prosperous and fairer Scotland, Finance Secretary John Swinney said.
Setting out the budget to parliament, Mr Swinney said the plans respond to Scotland’s improving economic conditions and would enhance economic growth, tackle inequalities and continue to protect and invest in Scotland’s public services.
The Finance Secretary said the budget would build on the Scottish Government’s track record since 2007 in delivering opportunities for all to flourish through sustainable economic growth.
Mr Swinney also set out tax rates for the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and Scottish Landfill tax which come into force onApril 1 2015.
Despite the increasing strength of Scotland’s economy, this budget is set against the context of cuts by Westminster to the Scottish Government’s Fiscal DEL budget of around 10 per cent in real terms over five years, including capital spending cuts of over 25 per cent.
Mr Swinney set out the following actions to parliament:
To make Scotland a more prosperous country the budget will:
• Secure £4.5 billion of infrastructure investment in 2015-16
• Support £330 million of further capital investment in our Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme through NPD funding
• Provide £140 million to deliver 2 new college campuses through the NPD pipeline
• Continue to deliver the most competitive business tax environment in the UK
• Invest £16.6 million in 2015-16 to further take forward recommendations of the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce
To tackle inequalities the budget will:
• Drive investment in affordable housing of over £390 million to deliver 6000 affordable homes and £125 million of additional financial support for the housing sector.
• Invest over £300 million over two years in extending child care to 600 hours for all 3 and 4 year olds and vulnerable 2 year olds.
• Provide additional support for looked after children
• Provide £81 million to mitigate against Wesminster’s welfare reform including the ‘Bedroom Tax’
• Maintain a council tax freeze across Scotland
• Continue the Scottish Government’s social wage commitments including free prescriptions, concessionary travel and free personal care
To protect and reform Public Services the budget will:
• Increase the health budget to over £12 billion with a funding increase of £288 million
• Invest over £170 million in 2015-16 to help drive integration of adult health and social care
• Support 1000 additional police officers
• Protect the Local Government budget
• Maintain a Scottish living wage for public sector workers covered by public sector pay policy
• Continue the commitment to no compulsory redundancies.
Setting out the budget to parliament John Swinney said:
“This budget follows the most vibrant political campaign Scotland has ever experienced.
“No one could have missed the aspirations expressed with breath-taking clarity that the people of Scotland want to live in a more prosperous and a much fairer country than it is today.
“This budget is focused on meeting those ambitions, as far as we can within our current powers, by tackling inequality, investing in our economy and protecting and reforming our public services.
“This budget will see £4.5 billion invested in infrastructure with new colleges, health facilities and schools being built across the country.
“This budget continues our actions to mitigate UK Government welfare cuts with £81 million of support and delivers on our commitments to expand childcare and to provide free school meals for all p1-p3 pupils.
“And we will secure the future of the health service in public hands, with extra funding in 2015-16 bringing the total health budget to more than £12 billion for the first time.
“It is also a landmark budget, including for the first time our proposals for the rates and bands of Scottish Landfill Tax and Land & Buildings Transaction Tax, devolved through the Scotland Act 2012 and which take effect for the first time in 2015-16.
“Those taxes will be fair taxes set in line with the priorities of the people of Scotland.
“The actions I have taken today demonstrate the values and priorities of the Scottish Government. We drive forward investment in our economy, we protect our NHS, we invest in our young people and businesses and we protect the most vulnerable.”