Scottish Budget ‘will prioritise climate emergency’

The Scottish Government will publish its 2020-21 spending plans on Thursday.

Tackling the climate emergency will be at the heart of this week’s Scottish Budget, finance secretary Derek Mackay has said.

The Scottish Government will publish its 2020-21 spending plans on Thursday.

Opposition parties have been pressing for the protection of public services, with the Scottish Greens and Labour urging free bus travel for young people, and the Tories pushing for changes to income tax.

MacKay said: “The global climate emergency was at the centre of our Programme for Government and will be a priority theme in the budget this week.

“We have already put in place the most ambitious climate legislation and targets of any country including decarbonising Scotland’s railways by 2035 and making the Highlands and Islands the world’s first net zero aviation region by 2040.

“This budget will set out how our spending plans and investments will help us achieve these ambitions.”

He added: “We will also provide certainty for local government and vital public services.

“Despite the delay to the UK Government announcing its budget, we will confirm individual local authority funding allocations, having already announced that we are giving them the flexibility to increase their council tax levels by up to 3% in real terms.”

Chancellor Sajid Javid will unveil the Treasury’s tax and spending plans in March, having originally been due to present them last autumn.

Scottish Labour’s finance spokeswoman, Rhoda Grant MSP, has written to Mr Mackay ahead of Thursday with a list of the party’s priorities, including a “fair deal” for further and higher education and a plan to encourage the use of low carbon transport.

Grant said: “This week I have written to Derek Mackay to invite him to invest in our future by enabling local authorities to provide free bus travel and world-leading education for our young people and to provide healthcare at home for our older people.

“Scottish Labour is calling for the Government to properly fund Scotland’s hard-pressed local authorities, so they can deliver the vital services that communities need.

“It’s time to end these 13 years of financial mismanagement. It’s time the SNP listened to Scottish Labour and delivers hope to our communities.”

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