Scottish Greens secure pandemic budget deal

Scottish Greens have secured emergency relief payments for low income households as part of a major budget deal with the Scottish Government to tackle poverty, give frontline workers a pay rise and sow the seeds of a green recovery.

The budget deal will see a Pandemic Relief Payment, providing direct payments of up to £330 this year to around half a million low income households who have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

As well as ensuring children and young people currently entitled to school meals will receive them in the holidays, free school meals will be expanded to all primary age children by next summer, phased in on a timetable agreed with COSLA. This will benefit over 200,000 children and their families.

Scottish Green MSPs have also delivered free bus travel for young people so that anyone aged 21 or younger will now be able to travel for free.

The budget deal also secures an enhanced public sector pay deal. Public sector staff on under £25k will get an £800 increase, equivalent to 4% for, for example, teaching assistants.

Commenting, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “The Scottish Greens have been clear that the Scottish budget needed to do more to tackle rising poverty and ensure a green recovery from the pandemic.

“I’m delighted that once again our constructive approach has delivered real results for the people who need it most. The COVID household relief payment will direct money to those households who have struggled in this crisis, providing funding for essential supplies.

“We’ve also been clear that school meals can be a vital tool in tackling child poverty. Marcus Rashford has brought the campaign for meals during the school holidays to the forefront, and I’m proud that Green MSPs have won that in Scotland, and universal free school meals for all primary kids by next summer.

“Concessionary bus travel for young people is a game changer, opening up opportunities for families and young people, and promoting public transport use for a whole generation.

“And after the insult of a public sector pay freeze from the UK budget, I’m proud that the Greens have secured an uplift for the workers who have been and still are on the front line of our efforts to tackle this public health crisis. We will continue to back further progress, for example in the imminent NHS Scotland pay review.

“We have also won commitments to sow the seeds of a green recovery, with more funding to embed cycling and walking infrastructure and protect Scotland’s nature. We’ve been clear that the efficiency of homes needs to be improved, and that farmers need more support to lower emissions.

“This year’s budget cements the impact the Scottish Greens have had on Scotland’s priorities over the last five years. From fairer taxes to local services, we’ve shown every year that Green MSPs will get things done to build a fairer and greener Scotland.”