Our decisions will make a difference to people’s lives
IN Scotland, the SNP is governing in tough times – every day we face the challenges of austerity and Tory policies with little support here.
But while we battle to mitigate the impact of Westminster decisions, we also continue to move ahead with ambitious plans of our own for building a better future.
I’m just back from the SNP conference in Aberdeen where I set out what we are doing to deliver on our ambitious vision for Scotland, from investment in our infrastructure to supporting jobs and living standards.
For example, I announced investment of £25million to deliver 3000 new homes – that’s over and above our existing target of 50,000 affordable homes over this parliament. This will be a huge boost to the economy and deliver homes that people need.
I also confirmed that over the same time period we will build, extend or refurbish around 750 nurseries across the country to help deliver our childcare expansion – quite literally building a better future for our children.
We’re investing in infrastructure and we’re investing in our people too.
NHS employees are a huge asset to Scotland, and we value their contribution enormously. That’s why while
We’re investing in infrastructure and we’re investing in our people too
we are negotiating a full three-year pay deal for our NHS staff, we will deliver a full three per cent pay rise this year for nurses, midwives, allied health professionals, therapists, paramedics, administrators and others as a down payment on the deal – an investment of over £160m to put more money in the pockets of 147,000 people who care for us when we need it most.
We also want to support those who look after us in times of need, in their own time. I’ve had the privilege of meeting many people across all of Scotland, of all ages, who are unpaid carers. I know we can’t ever thank them enough for what they do but here is an example of the positive changes we can make when the Scottish Parliament increases the powers it has.
Since Carers’ Allowance is now in the hands of the Scottish Parliament, we can take action. So, from this summer, backdated to April, we will increase Carers’ Allowance by more than £500-a-year.
The decisions we as a government are taking in Scotland will make a positive difference to people’s lives. That is what we are focused on day in day out.
We can do this because the powers of the Scottish Parliament allow us to choose an alternative path to Toryruled Westminster. But the powers of our Parliament are under threat thanks to the UK Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill, which today goes to a vote at Westminster.
As it stands, that Bill allows UK ministers to remove the powers of the Scottish Parliament for up to seven years in areas like agriculture, fishing, trade, environmental standards and consumer protections, whether or not the Scottish Parliament agrees to it.
The SNP, the Greens, Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats joined together to protect the powers of the Scottish Parliament in defence of devolution, and refuse consent for this UK Government power grab. There was only one party happy to sign away Scotland’s powers – the Scottish Conservatives.
Far from standing up for Scotland, Ruth Davidson’s party stands alone and isolated.
So today is a test for her colleagues at Westminster. They can choose to respect devolution and the will of the Scottish Parliament, or they can prove what many in Scotland have long believed – the Tories can’t be trusted.
It has never been more important to focus on what makes a difference – not just now, but in the long term. So while the shambolic Tories seem intent on holding Scotland back, the SNP Scottish Government is determined to keep moving Scotland forward.