Maureen’s Matters - Growing the economy

The budget for 2015/16 will be voted on this week, with record investment proposed for the NHS and an emphasis on growing the economy.

The package proposed by DFM John Swinney will increase the health budget by £288m, taking it above £12bn for the first time. The council tax freeze would be continued, and there would be increased investment in job creation for young people, if passed.

People in the NE can hope for a light at the end of the tunnel, despite stringent austerity cuts being passed down from Westminster. What is clear from this Budget is that the Scottish Government will use everything in its currently-devolved powers to boost the economy, create jobs and invest in public services. £4.5bn has been proposed for health and education infrastructure, and over £300m will be invested over two years in extending child care to 600 hours for all three, four and vulnerable two year-olds.

As for Westminster’s welfare reforms including the ‘Bedroom Tax’ there will be £81 million to mitigate against these, and the commitment to free prescriptions, concessionary travel and free personal care will continue. With a General Election just around the corner, it’s important to see that the Scottish Government is currently limited, as Westminster continues to cut the Scottish budget. What better way to change our fortunes than by returning a strong team of SNP MPs to Westminster that could hold the balance of power to demand what we were promised to further grow our economy and tackle inequality? 

The Chief Economist’s latest State of the Economy assessment highlighted a strengthening in the Scottish economy, with the country on track to record its strongest performance since 2007.