The Scottish Parliament should unite behind the 2019-20 Scottish Budget in order to provide certainty on public spending and economic investment amid the ongoing Brexit uncertainty, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has said.
Speaking ahead of the Stage one budget debate on Thursday, Mr Mackay said his door remains open to opposition parties to secure a deal and ensure the budget passes to provide investment in key public services and the economic certainty Scotland needs.
The 2019-20 Scottish Budget proposes real terms increases in funding for local government, education, health and the police to support the transformation of Scotland’s public services to meet new challenges.
Tax plans outlined in the budget will ensure 55% of income taxpayers in Scotland will pay less than people earning the same income in the rest of the UK, while continuing to raise revenue to support investment in the economy and public services.
Mr Mackay said:
“On top of the damage it is clearly causing to Scottish businesses, Brexit, in whatever form, will cost jobs, make people poorer, damage our society and undermine the democratic decision of the people of Scotland to remain in the EU.
“With unemployment in Scotland below 100,000 for the first time on record, it is essential we do all we can to protect our economy amid the ongoing Brexit uncertainty.
“The Scottish Budget we propose offers that stability and provides as much certainty as possible in the circumstances.
“Our spending plans for 2019-20 provide a real terms funding increase for Scotland’s essential public services, including additional funding of almost £730 million for our health and care services and more than £180 million to raise attainment in our schools. The Budget also gives a vital boost to our economy through our £5 billion infrastructure investment programme.”
The 2019-20 Scottish Budget:
- Provides more than £180 million in raising attainment in schools, including £120 million for head teachers to spend on closing the attainment gap
- Continues to deliver a progressive income tax system;
- Includes a public sector pay deal that continues the journey of restoring pay levels and provides an above inflation pay uplift of 3% for those earning up to £36,500;
- Provides the most generous package of business rates reliefs in the UK, and ensure more than 90 per cent of properties in Scotland will be charged a lower tax rate than other parts of the UK;
- Allocates more than £600 million for colleges and maintains investment at more than £1 billion for universities;
- Increases direct investment in mental health by £27 million, taking overall funding to £1.1 billion, including improving mental health services for young people, and providing support in schools, colleges and universities;
- Increases investment in Health and Social Care Partnerships to more than £9 billion for delivery of primary and community health services;
- Delivers new and improved social security benefits based on dignity and respect;
- Provides local government with a real terms increase in both revenue and capital funding, and a real terms increase in total overall support, through a £11.1 billion settlement;
- Prioritises almost £500 million to expand funded early learning and childcare, supporting the recruitment and training of staff and investment in building, refurbishment and extension of around 750 nurseries and family centres;
- Includes initial funding of £130 million towards the establishment of a Scottish National Investment Bank;
- Protects the police resource budget in real terms;
- Provides more than £20 million for zero waste, supporting the transition towards a more resource-efficient, circular economy, including design and implementation of a deposit return scheme;
- Allocates £80 million for Active Travel to help build an Active Nation;
- Invests more than £825 million, as part of our total investment in excess of £3 billion to deliver 50,000 affordable homes over the course of the Parliament;
- Continues to invest in the £50 million Ending Homelessness Together fund; and
- Provides more than £70 million in 2019-20 to drive forward sustainable and inclusive growth in the rural economy.