This is a Budget that takes decisive action to deliver inclusive growth and support public services while protecting, not burdening, those on the lowest incomes, said Deputy First Minister and Finance Secretary John Swinney on 24 February as the Budget Bill passed with a majority.
During the Budget Bill’s final parliamentary stage, the Deputy First Minister announced an additional £80m to support educational attainment. This will double the amount planned for the Attainment Scotland Fund over the next three years, to a total of £160m.
Mr Swinney also confirmed that the Scottish Government will adjust the level of business rates relief available for empty properties and extend the fresh start and new start reliefs until April 2017. This will ensure Scotland continues to offer a competitive advantage for the majority of business ratepayers within the United Kingdom.
This budget protects public services and pursues ambitious plans for reform. It provides leadership to employers across the country by including plans to deliver a pay rise for around 50k of the lowest paid workers, including many in the public sector.
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The Deputy First Minister said:
“Education lies at the heart of inclusive growth and tacking inequality, and we are determined to improve educational outcomes.
“Action to improve educational attainment is an absolute priority for the Government. Therefore, after careful consideration of the Budget, I am allocating an additional £80m to support our efforts to boost educational attainment – doubling the investment over the next three years to a total of £160m.”
Mr Swinney added:
“My priority all along has been to deliver a Budget that takes decisive action to deliver inclusive growth and support public services and does so whilst protecting, not burdening, those on the lowest incomes: this is our Scottish alternative to UK Government austerity.
“Instead of increasing the tax burden, this Budget protects household incomes. We will reform our innovation landscape, invest £250m to deliver the most significant reform to health and social care since the creation of the NHS in Scotland, and protect the frontline police resource budget with further funding to support continuing reform.
“I welcome the agreement of Scotland’s local authorities to the Budget settlement which, when taken together as a package of funding, will enable them to increase the pace of reform and improve essential public services to communities all over the country.”