Budget (East Kilbride)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 21 December 2023.

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Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

The Scottish budget has been set in difficult circumstances, in which we are having to deal with a 1.2 per cent real-terms decrease in our block grant since 2022-23. That has forced us to make difficult decisions and prioritise what really matters.

East Kilbride communities will benefit from the increased investment in the national health service, the additional £1 billion that we are investing in social security benefits, the increased funding for our police and fire services, and record funding to local government—a 6 per cent increase from last year’s budget—including additional investment to fund a council tax freeze. Those are the choices that we have made to support people and public services across Scotland.

Photo of Collette Stevenson Collette Stevenson Scottish National Party

Thirteen years of Tory austerity have eroded funding for public services. On top of that, Scotland is still paying off Labour’s dodgy private finance initiative deals, including that for Hairmyres hospital in East Kilbride, which cost £68 million to build over 20 years ago. The PFI debt is £28.7 million this year and will be £29 million next year, with total repayment exceeding £700 million. [

Interruption

.]

The Presiding Officer:

L et us hear Ms Stevenson.

Photo of Collette Stevenson Collette Stevenson Scottish National Party

In the face of those budget constraints caused by the Labour Party and the Conservative Party, can the Deputy First Minister set out the benefits of the Scottish National Party Government’s progressive income tax policies, including for spending on vital public services, such as our NHS?

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

In stark contrast to the Opposition—[

Interruption

.]

The Presiding Officer:

Members! Let us hear one another.

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

They do not like to hear it, Presiding Officer.

In stark contrast to the Opposition parties, the Government is fully committed to the principle of progressive taxation and to continuing to support our social contract with the people of Scotland. The Scottish Fiscal Commission has estimated that our income tax policy choices since devolution will raise roughly an additional £1.5 billion in 2024-25 compared with what would have been raised, had we matched United Kingdom Government policy. As a result of our progressive approach, we can continue to provide a wide range of services and social security payments that are not provided elsewhere in the UK, such as our flagship Scottish child payment, free prescriptions and free higher education, to benefit our society and people across the country.

Photo of Graham Simpson Graham Simpson Conservative

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport works across the region, including in East Kilbride, but the Deputy First Minister has just slashed its general capital support grant to nothing. That money funds engineering works, bus station works, bus stops and shelters, bus infrastructure and the decarbonisation of the fleet, and it supports councils in delivering active travel. Does the Deputy First Minister agree with the SPT’s chair and SNP councillor Stephen Dornan, who has said that this is completely unacceptable?

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

Graham Simpson comes here with crocodile tears. His Government has cut capital funding by 10 per cent over the next five years. If he cares about our infrastructure, he would be making representations to his own Tory Government about such cuts.

We have had to take difficult decisions. In doing so, we have taken into account the reserves that are held by organisations such as SPT. We will continue to work with organisations, but if they have reserves, they are, of course, taken into account in our budget decisions.

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

Given the cabinet secretary’s reference to the general impacts of the budget and taking into account the proposed increase in the capital budget for health, can the cabinet secretary confirm that a new medical centre for Lochgelly was promised by the Scottish Government way back in 2011? Surely, therefore, the cabinet secretary must agree with my constituents that it should be Lochgelly’s turn now.

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

Our investment in health infrastructure and front-line health services is, of course, of key importance. I said in response to questions on the budget statement on Tuesday that I would come back in the spring to set out our investment pipeline, based on those priorities but also taking into account the capital cuts from the UK Government, which will have an impact on infrastructure. However, I am happy to continue to engage with Annabelle Ewing and will ensure that I update her in due course on the particular facility that she has referred to.