Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP 10th
Money money money
Well forgive me for thinking that
when you negotiate a deal and you get everything you want and
more from that deal that you would think that you had….yes you
guessed it….a deal.
Well yesterday we had the budget and
John Swinney in his financial wizardry had managed to ensure
that all the political parties demands as far as the reasonable
ones go were met. But labour again in their …..eh wisdom!!!
Decided to vote against the budget. Now I think that having a
budget process that allows all parties to contribute makes a
better budget for Scotland so you would think that the budget
produced yesterday would be worth supporting. Oh but for labour
it was a no.
Labour have voted against everything
in the budget today, all of which is outlined below. These
include key ‘Labour’ priorities such as apprenticeships, jobs
for young people, support for jobs in the voluntary sector,
housing etc. However their biggest crime is the fact that,
during the budget negotiations,
John Swinney accepted all of Labour’s demands, and in many cases
we exceeded what they asked, but
they failed to respond to this offer. Then, during the budget
debate yesterday, Andy Kerr and other Labour MSPs gave a series
of reasons for not supporting the budget, such as lack of money
for nurses, classroom assistants, social care etc. However,
Andy Kerr raised none of these issues with John Swinney during
the budget negotiations!
For the second time this week (following the Megrahi
revelations), Scottish Labour have been caught being completely
hypocritical and playing politics with hugely serious issues.
Budget – what it means
Below is what the budget will do for
the people for Scotland.
This is what Labour has voted against.
• Invest a further £11.5 million to
create 25,000 modern apprenticeship places
- a record high for Scotland and 60% more than under Labour’s
last year (07/08).
Continued funding for council tax freeze
– by the end of next year the average Band D family will have
saved £322 since the SNP introduced the freeze.
Funding to continue and uplift the SNP’s flagship Small Business
removing 64,000 small businesses from business rates and saving
them up to £4,100.
• The creation of a £70m ‘change
fund’ to help local authorities and health boards deal with the
rising costs of providing social care. This is a precursor to
plans to further integrate the two.
Funding to abolish prescription charges.
• Provide 7,000 flexible training
opportunities for SMEs - 2,000 more than originally planned in
the draft Budget
• Invest £8 million to provide
enough funding for an extra 1,200 college places
an additional £15 million across 2010-11 and 2011-12 in funding
for college bursaries;
• Maintain educational grants for
pupils and college students most in need which were cut south of
• Guarantee a probation place for
every newly-qualified teacher and provide enough teaching jobs
for every post-probationer in 2011-12;
• New Early Years and Early
Intervention Fund, with start-up funding of £5 million;
£10 million support for SME employment creation
– focused on new starts, sole traders and small firms to take on
new employees by assisting with employment and recruitment costs
and assist with exports;
• £2m Freight Facilities Grant;
• £1m Post office Diversification
£12.5 million for Urban Regeneration Companies – increase of £6
million on the Draft budget;
• £16 million further investment in
Funding to maintain 1,000 additional police officers;
• Protect Health Spending and
continue provisions for free personal care;
• Infrastructure Commitments such as
the new Forth crossing, New South Glasgow Hospitals project and
school building programme
• £70 million Renewables
Infrastructure Fund – over four years;
• £48 million support for energy
assistance package and Home Insulation Scheme.
• Funding to implement
a living wage of £7.15 an hour
for staff whose pay is controlled by the Scottish Government,
and a minimum increase of £250 for staff earning under £21000.
It is frankly
unbelievable that a Labour party could vote against a budget
which includes such a good deal on apprenticeships.
• The Budget has
been amended at Stage 3 to increase the number of
apprenticeships funded by the Scottish Government from 20,000
this year to 25,000 next year (made up of 20,000 Scottish
Government-funded and 5000 European-funded)
This is a 25%
increase, and is 58% more than in 2007/8 (the last year for
which Labour set the budget).
• The figures below
show that Labour allowed the number of apprenticeships to go
into free-fall; however the SNP Government has reversed this
• Labour had cut the
number of new start places by almost a fifth (17%) by 2006/7
when there were just over 15,000 new places
• Our investment in
apprenticeships in 2010/11 was around £60million.
We exceeded last
year’s target of 18,500 Modern Apprentices
instead delivered more than 20,000.
The Budget has been
amended at Stage 3 to provide an additional 1200 college places,
at a cost of £8m. This funding covers both teaching and student
support costs. The money will be given to the Funding Council
for distribution amongst colleges. In addition, NUS Scotland has
been running a high-profile ‘Budget for Bursaries’ campaign
which is seeking an extra £14m for college bursaries.
The Budget Bill has
been amended at Stage 3 to provide an extra £15m.
• Since the SNP
Government took over in 2007 we have taken unprecedented steps
to help with the costs of studying at college.
• We have recognised
the pressure that college budgets have faced due to the
recession and taken steps to alleviate it.
This current year’s
further education student funding budget is £83.9m – up 16% in
just two years.
• All spending
decisions taken by the Scottish Government for 2011-12 must be
considered in the context of the £1.3billion (cash terms) and
£1.8billion (real terms) cut to our budget that has been forced
on us by the UK Conservative-Lib Dem Government in just this one
year. If the Scottish Parliament had full authority over its own
budget, and received the revenue raised from Scotland and
Scotland’s seas – as we call for in the SNP – the country’s
finances would be in a far better position.
support for further education students in next year’s budget has
been protected from cuts.
The number of places on offer at Scotland’s colleges will not go
down. These are major commitments in the current situation, and
compare with a 25% cut to further education in England.
Government has also chosen to continue the Education Maintenance
– a crucial payment
for 16- and 17-year olds that the Conservative-Lib Dem
Government has withdrawn in England.
• We are already
working together with NUS to find a way forward, and this is
including discussions about moving from local discretion to
entitlement in our regular meetings with them. NUS have
previously made this point with regard to childcare funding for
students in higher education and we have been receptive to their
case. There are difficulties in setting hard and fast national
standards when local knowledge of individual circumstances can
play an important role. We value our positive relationship with
NUS and will keep working constructively with student
representatives to find solutions to the problems we all agree
need to be solved.
• Last year’s budget
negotiations led to the creation of a £1m Post office
Diversification Fund which, as the title suggests, was designed
to help post offices stay open in the face of declining usage by
diversifying their businesses.
• Since then, the
application window has been and gone and 49 post offices were
awarded funding of up to £25,000 each. Postmasters came forward
with a variety of innovative proposals to develop new revenue
streams such as retailing, selling different goods, or providing
a business service not already available in their locality.
• This year the
Budget has been amended at Stage 3 to include the continuation
of this fund.
• As requested by
the Transport Committee in their report, the Budget will provide
an extra £2m for the Freight Facilities Grant scheme.
• This will ensure
we continue to encourage a shift in the movement of goods from
road to rail and water freight.
• Awards of Freight
Facilities Grant total over £72 million, and these projects have
been instrumental in removing over 120 million lorry miles from
Scotland's roads, in turn reducing Scotland's carbon emissions.
This additional money announced today will continue to
contribute to this reduction, in turn encouraging the freight
industry to the move its goods by more sustainable modes of
• Typically over
shorter distances road freight is cheaper than rail or water as
there are no additional handling costs. The Scottish Government
operates 4 freight grant schemes which all have the aim of
encouraging the transfer of freight from road to rail or water
where the road option is cheaper, thereby resulting in more
sustainable freight movement. The capital Freight Facilities
Grant scheme levels the playing field in terms of cost between
road and the more sustainable options of rail and water by
co-funding the development of freight facilities.
• The Budget
includes £31m for urban regeneration, an increase of £6 million
on funding planned in the draft budget.
• The funding will
support regeneration plans for new houses, transport links,
community facilities, retail and business sites and land and
• Four areas will
see transformational change - Clyde Gateway in the East end of
Glasgow, Inverclyde waterfront, Clydebank and Irvine Bay in
Scotland's run down and derelict sites into areas of prosperity
that offer opportunities for people to live and work is a major
priority for the Scottish Government. Times are hard, the UK
government has embarked on a ruthless programme of savage cuts,
and Scotland is suffering at their hands.
Council tax freeze
• Once again, Labour
have shown their determination to scupper the council tax freeze
by voting against this budget.
• If it continues
for another year,
the council tax
freeze will have saved the average Scottish Band D taxpayer
• At the same time,
Labour would rather put up council tax than charge a bit more in
business rates to the largest retailers.
• The table on the
following page shows how much extra taxpayers would have paid
next year had Labour got their way and the council tax freeze
money was withdrawn (source S3W-36495). Labour remain in a
complete mess over what to do with the council tax:
leader Iain Gray demands end to council tax freeze to help
authorities offset Tory cuts”
– 17 Aug 2010.
“Well, we’ve never
been against freezing the council tax”
– Politics Show, 24 Oct
Then he caps it
think in the current circumstances, you're talking about one or
BBC, 29 October, 2010.
Says it all really
Labour are more
interested in petty party point scoring than the real needs
people of Scotland.
Now think - who
rather have John
Swinney or Andy (disnae have a clue) Kerr. I know who I will be
I was invited to reply
for the lassies at the East Kilbride Burns supper, it was a
smashing night of song, prose, recitation and
Harvey Littlejohn the
past president of the
Kilbride Burns club gave an
absolutely fabulous immortal memory and even sang some of the
songs in his presentation. Bill Kidd MSP was in fine if not
cheeky form when toasting the lassies and Rob Gibson MSP sang a
few lovely songs and also sang the address to the haggis. Rob
does have a fair sonsie face
Kawuki Julius from Kampala Uganda gave a wonderful rendition of
the Selkirk Grace.
Here are some
pictures of the event which was chaired by the fantastically
fabulous Linda Fabiani
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