Ahead of this week's Stage One vote at Holyrood on the Scottish Government's draft budget for 2016/17, Patrick Harvie MSP, Finance and Economy spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, has written to the Deputy First Minister calling for a shift in priorities.
Budget issues highlighted by Mr Harvie include:
- The council tax freeze pledged by the SNP at the 2011 election was only for the duration of this session of parliament, which ends before the start of the new financial year.
- External providers delivering public services such as in the care sector say they are unable to pay staff the living wage due to lack of funds.
- Public sector workers deserve clarity about the likely end date of the long-running pay cap.
- Transport remains the area of policy which has seen the least progress in terms of measures to tackle climate change, such as investment in walking, cycling and public transport.
- Companies benefiting from publicly-funded grants and services should be made to comply with tougher standards such as ending the use of tax havens, divestment from arms, tobacco and fossil fuel.
Patrick Harvie MSP, Finance and Economy spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Glasgow, said:
"Communities across Scotland are suffering as successive years of the council tax freeze and additional cuts to council budgets impact on frontline services. We also see in our communities the ridiculous situation where carers who look after the elderly and vulnerable are paid less than the living wage, and the promise to make energy efficient housing a National Infrastructure Priority has yet to be supported with meaningful funds.
"The Scottish Government cannot continue to pass the buck. Its budget is about choices and as it stands it is choosing to drag its feet on fuel poverty, restrict the freedom of our local authorities, and prevent a decent standard of living for workers delivering public services.
"Within this budget there is room to reprioritise so instead of central control we could give local authorities the option to raise what they need to protect our communities. And instead of a massive increase in funds for motorways we could focus on walking, cycling and public transport to meet our health, social justice and climate responsibilities.
"The challenge from the Scottish Greens to the Scottish Government is to be bold in the budget and show real commitment to the fairer, greener Scotland so many people want to see."