By Louise Donegan,
The Scottish budget for the next year has been passed by the Scottish Parliament. Here’s what the SNP budget means for the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.
✔️ £400 million more for our NHS and more money direct to schools
The Tory government at Westminster has cut the budget available for public services in Scotland by half a billion over the next two years. By choosing a fairer path on taxation we are protecting Scotland’s cherished public services.
The budget will ensure:
record health spending of over £13.1 billion, with NHS Borders receiving over £200 million and NHS Dumfries and Galloway over £289 million in the next financial year;
millions of pounds are going direct to schools to tackle the attainment gap including over £1.8 million to Dumfries and Galloway and over £1.8 million going to Scottish Borders;
protection for the frontline police budget and ensuring our emergency services keep VAT savings;
a real terms increase in day to day spending on local council services in the south of Scotland; and
Investment of almost a quarter of a billion in our plan to near double provision of childcare and early years education.
✔️ Seven in ten income taxpayers paying less than they are paying this year
Changes to Income Tax will make Scotland the fairest taxed part of the UK, with the majority of taxpayers paying less than if they lived elsewhere in the UK. And compared to last year, everyone earning less than £33,000 will pay less.
✔️ Investing in schools, hospitals and roads in the South of Scotland
Investment will support: building schools including Broomlands Primary in Kelso and commencing construction of the new school in Jedburgh;
construction of the North West Campus, St Joseph’s Academy in the Dumfries and Galloway council area;
taking forward the Maybole bypass on the A77 and improving other sections south of Girvan and further improvements to the A75;
exploring how to better connect Dumfries and the M74; and
commencing work for the second Strategic Transport Projects Review in the Dumfries and Galloway area, including looking at the access to the ports at Cairnryan.
✔️ An end to the one per cent public sector pay cap
Next year we will deliver a minimum 3 per cent pay rise for public servants earning less than £36,500 – 75 per cent of public sector workers. For those earning more than £36,500 will receive a 2 per cent rise and a cash cap will be put in place on increases for those earning more than £80,000.
✔️ New investment to ensure Scotland is the best place to do business and invest. To grow the South of Scotland economy, we will:
invest an extra £100 million to deliver the best business rates package in UK;
increase investment in business research and development by 70 per cent;
invest £10 million in the creation of a new enterprise agency for the South of Scotland to drive inclusive growth;
continue to promote the area as a tourism destination for coastal and forest tourism activities;
set aside £340 million for a National Investment Bank with a new £150 million Building Scotland Fund; and
begin procurement of the £600 million programme to deliver superfast broadband to all homes and premises.
✔️ Maintaining the social contract, ensuring Scottish taxpayers get the best deal anywhere in the UK
With the cost of living rising, our commitment to a social contract with the people of Scotland is more important than ever. This budget will continue to fully fund an NHS free at the point of need; maintain free university tuition; and free personal and nursing care.
To strengthen the social contract this budget will:
implement Frank’s Law, providing free personal care to those who need it;
increase Carers Allowance;
provide free access to sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities;
and continue to provide all babies with a Baby Box of essential items for their first weeks and months.
✔️ New action to fight poverty and inequality. To build a fairer Scotland, this budget will:
invest £756 million towards our pledge to build 50,000 affordable homes in this Parliamentary term;
begin investment of the £50 million End Homelessness Together Fund;
begin investment of the £50 million Child Poverty Fund; and
maintaining £100 million a year investment to mitigate welfare cuts, including fully mitigating the Bedroom Tax.