Nats need deal to get bud­get through

Rutherglen Reformer - - Memory Lane - Pa­trick Harvie MSP FOR GLAS­GOW

Now we’re into Jan­uary, the clock is tick­ing for the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to reach an agree­ment over its draft bud­get for the com­ing year.

The SNP are a mi­nor­ity once again so they need an­other party in par­lia­ment to ei­ther ab­stain or sup­port their pro­pos­als to get them through next month.

Many peo­ple are still strug­gling to make ends meet so it’s dis­ap­point­ing to see the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment per­sist with a one per cent pay cap for most pub­lic sec­tor work­ers, while also propos­ing an in­come tax break for high earn­ers and a re­duc­tion in air duty, which again mostly ben­e­fits the rich­est. At the same time the pub­lic trans­port peo­ple use ev­ery day is be­ing cut.

Lo­cal coun­cils also con­tinue to be squeezed.

South La­nark­shire Coun­cil, for ex­am­ple, is fac­ing a rev­enue cut of al­most four per cent this year.

Al­ready spend­ing cuts have been ap­proved by the coun­cil. These are ex­pected to im­pact on chil­dren with ad­di­tional sup­port needs, wider chil­dren’s ser­vices and youth budgets.

The vol­un­tary sec­tor are also warn­ing of cuts to their ser­vices, re­lied upon by so many peo­ple. This in­cludes cuts to Healthy n Happy Trust, a re­ally ac­tive lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion who have achieved and spear­headed so much.

Lo­cally peo­ple are con­cerned about a lack of in­vest­ment and the con­di­tion of Cam­bus­lang and Ruther­glen town cen­tres.

There are con­cerns about graf­fiti, too many empty shops and lack of di­ver­sity in the shops that are there.

In other Euro­pean coun­tries it’s nor­mal for lo­cal coun­cils to have much greater free­dom to tackle such prob­lems, us­ing a range of lo­cal taxes and other pow­ers. Scot­land’s coun­cils, so re­liant on gov­ern­ment fund­ing, find their hands tied.

If Scot­tish min­is­ters want to pass their bud­get they’ll have to ac­knowl­edge these con­cerns and pre­pare to give ground.

Cam­paigner Pa­trick Harvie

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