We think that people expect parties to work together in the middle of a pandemic. Our focus has been to put recovery first.
We have highlighted the need for business support, an education bounce back plan, and better mental health services, given the pressure we know that the virus crisis has put on people.
As a result of constructive discussions, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have secured substantial amendments to the Scottish Government's Budget.
- An extra £120million for mental health services to pay for new services in communities.
- An extra £60million to help education bounce back with smaller class sizes.
- Additional support for businesses and the release of money for local authorities.
As a result of further discussions, some more changes have been agreed which have allowed Scottish Liberal Democrat MSPs to support the Budget.
The fresh allocations are as follows:
- An extra £20million to provide more in-class support for children who need it. This is a top up to the Pupil Equity Fund. This is money paid directly to headteachers to provide additional support to pupils from less well-off backgrounds. This represents a rough 16% increase on the current year.
- £15million in special allocations to the North East to pay for skills training, upskilling and business support in a region particularly under pressure given its reliance on fossil fuel industries.
- Building compensation for the council tax freeze into the baseline of local government funding, worth around £90million, which will remove the risk that councils would face a cliff edge on funding next year.
- £5million more for agriculture environment, which rewards farmers for environmental stewardship and helps our climate change priorities.
- A clear signal that work on eye services in the NHS Lothian area will be properly supported by the Scottish Government.
These changes, along with the money for the internal ferries in Orkney and Shetland which was included in the initial draft budget, show the impact that Liberal Democrat MSPs can make. We balance important national matters with targeted local support for our constituents.