Scottish Greens attack cuts and propose alternative budget

By staff writers
February 10, 2011

Scottish Green MSPs yesterday voted against the SNP administration's budget, accusing a "grand cuts coalition" of implementing Conservative policies.

The Labour Party also voted against the statement, but Liberal Democrat and Tory MSPs voted in favour of John Swinney's proposals after doing deals on particular items.

The Scottish National Party said that the £1.3 billion cuts had started under Labour, and accused them of "a hypocritical vote against apprenticeships and support for jobs in Scotland’s budget, including a Living Wage".

Earlier this week, the Greens set out measures to protect £400 million of public services, arguing that housing, education and energy efficiency in particular ought to have been protected, as well as the range of vital services provided by Scotland's local authorities.

"The price of this budget will be paid in full over the next year, not just by those who are unemployed, vulnerable or homeless, but by everyone who relies on public services like education or housing," declared Patrick Harvie MSP.

The Greens argued that with a few relatively straightforward changes to business taxation and a prudent delay to the additional Forth Road Bridge scheme, almost a third of the total cuts could have been overturned.

Ther alternative Scottish Green proposals were as follows:

Savings and additional revenue
* Delay additional Forth Road Bridge by a year to allow current work to be evaluated: £200 million
* Bring empty properties into non-domestic rates, as in England and Wales: £75 million
* Bring urban vacant land ("land banks") into non-domestic rates: £49.6 million
* Raise the Large Business Supplement from 0.7p to 2p: £68.7 million
Total: £393.3 million

Spending changes
* Limit cuts to higher and further education, including full funding for bursaries: £167 million
* Reverse cut to housing budgets: £94 million
* Fund shortfall in the Small Business Bonus Scheme following rejection of the Large Retailers Levy: £30 million
* Commit to full-scale universal home insulation programme: £100 million
Total: £391 million

Mr Harvie said: "Even with these changes, this would not be the progressive Budget that Greens in government would bring. These measures would however, tackle the worst of the Tory cuts, cuts the SNP currently plan simply to hand on to Scottish public services. This Budget is a defining moment for Holyrood - do MSPs of all parties have the vision and the determination to do things differently, or will they remain content to cling to George Osborne's coat-tails?"


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