John Wilson, SNP MSP for Central Scotland, has welcomed the vote in the Scottish Parliament passing the SNP Government’s 2011/2012 budget for Scotland.  The budget confirms funding for a Council Tax freeze for the fourth year running, the ending of prescription charges in Scotland and maintaining 1,000 additional police officers on the streets.


The SNP Government has also taken measure to freeze top salaries and cut bonuses as well as a range of measures designed to protect Scotland from the worst of £1.3billion cuts imposed by Westminster. 


Scotland’s budget for next year, approved by Parliament on Wednesday, will deliver the highest ever number of modern apprenticeships in Scotland.


A £34.5 million package to support thousands of additional employment, training and college places was also announced as part of next year’s Scottish Budget.


Despite a £1.3 billion cut imposed on Scotland by the UK Government, the Budget will deliver a total of 46,500 training opportunities, invest an extra £15 million in college bursaries and boost college places by a further 1,200.


Commenting, John Wilson MSP said:


“This budget will protect jobs and families across Scotland. The Scottish Government has worked hard to ensure the Council Tax freeze will remain in place for the fourth year in a row, saving the average household £322 since 2007.  Record police numbers will be maintained, and prescription charges abolished from the beginning of April.


“The budget offers a real commitment to support the people of Scotland during the economic recovery by investing in key areas for job creation and education. A record high of 25,000 modern apprenticeships and an extra 7,000 flexible training opportunities are just some of assistance offered in this budget” 


 “Labour MSPs have once again refused to back these measures which are aimed at helping people and businesses in Scotland through difficult economic times.  Labour’s refusal to engage constructively shows they have no vision and no ambition for Scotland and their rhetoric on jobs and apprenticeships is shown to be meaningless”


In addition to measures to boost economic recovery in the draft Budget published in November, the Budget Bill now provides for:


*        25,000 Modern Apprenticeships in 2011-12, the highest ever number in Scotland;


*        a further 10 million pounds in support for employment creation, focused on new starts and encouraging smaller companies to expand their business base;


*        an increase in Scottish Enterprise funding for the Urban Regeneration Companies to 12.5 million pounds in 2011-12


*        a further 16 million pounds into housing programmes by expanding the shared equity scheme  and the introduction of an infrastructure loans fund


*        an additional 15 million pounds across 2010-11 and 2011-12 in funding for college bursaries;


*        8 million pounds for an additional 1,200 college places in 2011-12, covering both teaching and student support costs;


*        the provision of an extra 2,000 flexible training opportunities in 2011-12, taking the total to 7,000;


The money will come from a combination of redirected spending in 2010-11 and 2011-12, a revised projected estimate of non-domestic rates income in 2011-12 and a further carry over provision as noted in the Spring Budget Revision.


Key measures already in the Budget include:


*        provision for funding to local authorities to deliver a further council tax freeze;


*        maintaining 1,000 extra police officers;


*        protecting spending on running health services in Scotland and abolishing remaining prescription charges;


*        funding for major infrastructure projects such as the new Forth Crossing, the South Glasgow Hospitals and Scotland’s Schools for the Future building programme and a 2.5 billion pounds pipeline of infrastructure projects;


*        sufficient teaching posts for all post-probationer teachers in 2011;


*        maintaining the valuable Small Business Bonus Scheme, helping tens of thousands of small businesses around Scotland;


*        introducing a pay freeze for public sector workers, with staff earning less than 21,000 pounds receiving a minimum annual pay increase of 250 pounds, and bearing down on the cost of the pay bill for the highest paid.

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