South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the Scottish Government budget which will deliver on the aspirations of the people of Scotland for a more prosperous and fairer Scotland.

The budget – set out in parliament by Finance Secretary John Swinney last week – will deliver sustainable economic growth while protecting public services and tackling inequality - Despite cuts by Westminster to the Scottish Government’s budget of around 10 per cent in real terms over five years, including capital spending cuts of over 25 per cent.

Scotland’s Health service will be protected with extra funding in 2015-16 - bringing the total health budget to more than £12 billion for the first time.

The Scottish Government has also pledged £81 million to mitigate against Westminster’s welfare reforms while continuing its commitment to the social wage, free prescriptions, concessionary travel and free personal care.

In addition £390 million will be invested in affordable housing and free child care extended to 600 hours for all 3 and 4 year olds and vulnerable 2 year olds.

Mr Swinney also announced a continuation of the council tax freeze - saving families in Band D households almost £500 in the last 3 years.

Ms McAlpine commented:

“Policies like the Council tax freeze and a commitment to the social wage will bring real benefits to my constituents against the backdrop of austerity and cuts from Westminster.

“Mr Swinney’s confirmation that the council tax freeze will be maintained for the eighth year in a row is very welcome indeed. This is just one of the Scottish Government’s social wage commitments to the people of Scotland – on top of the council tax freeze, the budget will also continue to deliver free tuition, concessionary travel, free prescriptions, free eye tests and free personal care.

“While the Tory government at Westminster last week set out plans to continue their attack on the poor with a benefit freeze that will hit 600,000 working families in Scotland, the Scottish Government is doing the best it can with the powers we currently have to protect family budgets. Families across the country are benefiting from the freeze in council tax, while a further 537,730 people in low income households are being protected from Westminster’s wrongheaded decision to scrap Council Tax Benefit.

“With further powers to create jobs and tackle inequality, we could do even more – and that is why these powers must be delivered to Scotland.” 

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