Budget agreement reached

Young people, police and local government to benefit.

Cabinet Secretary for Finance Kate Forbes has reached an agreement with the Scottish Green Party to ensure passage of the Scottish Government’s budget at all stages in parliament.

The final agreement will increase support for young people, police, climate action and local government.

Thanking all who took part in discussions, Ms Forbes said that while she had reached agreement with the Scottish Greens, the budget delivered on key issues raised by all parties in the parliament and called on all MSPs to unite behind the budget on Thursday.

The agreement which builds on key Scottish Government commitments to invest £15 billion in health and care services, deliver a child poverty payment and to expand early learning and childcare will:

  • deliver a National Concessionary Travel scheme offering free bus travel for 18s and under. The Scottish Government will undertake work on design and due diligence with a view to introducing such a scheme in January 2021
  • ensure a total uplift for the police service of £60 million in the next financial year with £13 million of additional investment in frontline services and a further £5 million of additional capital investment, on top of the £42 million already committed
  • support local services with £95 million of further funding for local government, taking total additional Scottish Government support for local authorities to £589 million

To further support Scotland’s efforts to end our contribution to climate change a £45 million package of investment in low carbon projects has been agreed including:

  • £25 million of additional investment in local energy efficiency projects
  • £15 million for local authority investment in active travel, taking the total investment in active transport in the next financial year to £100 million
  • £5 million to further develop options for enhanced rail services

As part of the agreement, the Scottish Government has confirmed that the Infrastructure Investment Plan, which will be published later this year, will be aligned with the Infrastructure Commission’s call for all future projects to be compatible with the Scottish Government’s net zero target and the Climate Change Act.

Confirming the agreement, Ms Forbes said:

“I am pleased to have reached an agreement to pass the Scottish budget and deliver certainty for communities, businesses and our vital public services – especially in face of the uncertainty created by the UK Government’s decision to delay its budget.

“I want to thank all parties for the constructive way in which they have approached this year’s discussions. While it is not possible to meet every party’s demands in full, I believe in reaching formal agreement with the Green Party, I am also delivering on key asks from every party and I encourage all MSPs to consider giving their support to Scotland’s budget.

“This budget invests a record £15 billion in health and care services, delivers Scotland’s unique child payment to lift our youngest out of poverty, transfers £3 billion of social security spending, supports our efforts to tackle the climate crisis and the creation of a Scottish National Investment Bank.

“The Scottish Government had already backed Police Scotland with a budget increase of £42 million. We will now increase that support to £60 million overall with £50 million of investment for frontline services.

“And we will deliver in full the support Cosla and others have asked for with £95 million for local government.

“We have made significant investments to tackle the climate crisis, with funding for a green deal, low carbon travel and £1.8 billion of low carbon infrastructure.

“To further increase our action to tackle climate change and to support young people across Scotland, we will take steps to introduce a National Concessionary Travel scheme providing free bus travel for Scotland’s 18s and under. We will begin the work now to ensure such a scheme is legally compliant and that it meets young people’s needs with the aim of introducing it from January 2021. Alongside the £500 million bus infrastructure fund, this will help deliver a step change in the use of public transport.

“I will also increase funding for walking, cycling and safer streets to £100 million for the first time and boost support for energy efficiency measures as part of our focus on reaching net-zero.

“When I presented the budget I said that every penny had been spent and that remains the case. In the absence of proposals to change spending, this additional investment will be funded through limited amounts of underspend, taking a multi-year approach to issues around non-domestic rates without impacting on local authority revenues, and additional consequentials from the fossil fuel levy. While this increases the financial exposure of the government it ensures that social security payments can be made and public services properly funded.”

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