Plea for opposition to work ‘constructively’ on passing Budget

Public finance minister Kate Forbes said the proposals are aimed at ‘protecting family budgets’.

Plea: Public finance minister Kate Forbes. STV
Plea: Public finance minister Kate Forbes.

Opposition parties are being urged to work “constructively” with the Scottish Government to pass the Budget.

Public finance minister Kate Forbes made the plea ahead of negotiations to ensure the government can get its tax and spending plans for 2020-21 through Holyrood.

The SNP runs a minority government at the Scottish Parliament so ministers need to win the backing of at least one of their rival parties.

Ms Forbes, who became the first woman to present a Holyrood Budget when she stepped in at the last minute on Thursday after Derek Mackay quit as finance secretary, said the government’s proposals are aimed at “protecting family budgets”.

The Budget includes a 3% pay rise for public sector workers earning up to £80,000, and also sets out a £645m investment as part of the commitment to double free nursery provision for children.

A total of £21m is allocated for the Scottish Child Payment, a new £10-a-week benefit to help low income families that will start being paid before the end of the year.

Ms Forbes said: “Wellbeing and fairness are at the heart of this year’s Budget. An important part of that is protecting incomes, tackling inequalities and providing high-quality public services.

“Our spending plans will also support low-income households which are being hit the hardest by the UK Government’s benefit cuts.

“Based on previous estimates, we expect to spend at least £1.4bn to mitigate the worst effects of these cuts and tackle child poverty head on.

“Our Scottish Child Payment will also help lift 30,000 children out of poverty when it is fully rolled out in 2022.

“Our tax policies are the fairest and most progressive in the UK, with more than half of taxpayers paying less income tax in Scotland than if they lived elsewhere in the UK.

“We are also supporting first-time buyers with our residential land and building transaction tax (LBTT) policies, meaning almost half of residential property transactions pay no LBTT at all.

“Under this fair and progressive tax approach we are able to raise additional revenue to invest in the delivery of first-class public services and policies, including free school meals, our Pupil Equity Fund, delivering affordable homes and energy efficient measures.

“We are prioritising actions that have the greatest impact on improving lives across Scotland now, and creating the conditions that are required to ensure wellbeing for future generations.

“I hope Parliament recognises the importance of protecting family budgets in uncertain times and will work constructively with us to pass this Budget in the national interest.”

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