C&B News Article – March 2020


[The below article was submitted for publication as Gordon Macdonald's monthly column in the C&B News. The printed version may differ due to C&B News editorial considerations.]

C&B News Article – March 2020

The Scottish Government’s Budget is set against the backdrop of heightened uncertainty and risk, created by the UK Government following their decision to delay the UK Budget until March. Discussions with Treasury officials suggested that our Barnett consequential or Block Grant funding changes, should be based on commitments made during the General Election by the Conservative party. On the 11th March the UK Government must now deliver on these promises in full as the Scottish Government has had to estimate the Barnett consequential and hence its investment in services. Our greatest commitment is to health and care services with a record allocation of £15 billion, an increase of £1 billion. The A&E services in Scotland are nationally recognised as the best performing in the UK and the number of people working in our health service are at record levels. The Education budget will provide a real terms increase in funding to £3.57 billion, ensuring that our teachers are the highest paid in the UK. Our aim to close the poverty related attainment gap will be supported by £120 million in Pupil Equity Funding to be spent at the direction of head teachers. Our budget also commits £645 million to almost double free provision of childcare to 1140 hours for all 3 and 4 year olds and eligible 2 year olds. This will save families in Edinburgh up to £4,500 per child a year. From April 2020, Scotland will have a new social security system controlling £3.4 billion to support people who need it the most. A new Scottish Child Payment will be introduced, hailed as a game-changer in the fight against poverty by charities, which when fully rolled out will help 30,000 children out of poverty. The Scottish Government remains committed to build 50,000 affordable homes over the course of this parliament. Since 2007, more than 89,000 affordable homes, including 61,356 for social rent, have been delivered. In the last four years, there have been eight times more social rented properties per head delivered in Scotland than in England. Whilst at the same time more than half of Scottish income tax payers will pay less tax than if they lived elsewhere in the UK for the third consecutive year.

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