Scottish Greens say the 2014-15 budget, which will be approved by the Scottish Parliament today, confirms that Scotland is on an increasingly different course from the agenda led by the Coalition parties at Westminster.
While criticising other aspects of the SNP Government’s budget, the Greens are welcoming changes which have been made since the budget’s introduction.
Tens of millions of pounds will be spent by the Scottish Government to mitigate the impact of the bedroom tax on Scottish tenants. Recent decisions to extend free school meals and childcare provision to address the growing cost of living have been welcomed by the Greens.
Following discussions with the Greens, John Swinney has also indicated his willingness to develop a more community-led approach in the delivery of over £90m funding for public health initiatives on active lifestyles and healthy food. Green MSPs will work with the Scottish Government over the coming months to deliver on this commitment.
Patrick Harvie, Green MSP said:
"This backlash budget sees a united front from most of Scotland's political landscape against the Tories' bedroom tax attack on tenants. The Scottish Government is right to show that we can make very different choices from Westminster even within the current constraints of devolution. Greens welcome new money to extend childcare and school meals, which will have a positive impact on equality and opportunity.
“This is by no means a perfect budget. The Government could have shifted investment away from unsustainable transport projects and into building a greener and healthier Scotland. We could have moved less money from revenue to capital, and used it to give an inflation-based increase to public sector employees. The constraints on local government could have been lifted, and this should certainly be the last year in which punitive cuts are used to threaten local authorities into keeping Council Tax frozen.
"There’s also an urgent need for preventative spending to transform our society, and I'm pleased Ministers have agreed to do more to help communities design their own projects for better health. Tackling our growing obesity crisis isn't going to be solved in a top down way - we must empower communities to try new ideas."