Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed the passing of stage one of the Scottish Government’s Budget Bill, following a much-anticipated vote in the Scottish Parliament.
He said that Labour, Tory and Lib Dem opponents failed to support investment for the Isles in the budget – with the three opposition parties “failing to support the budget, and failing or to argue for anything better.”
Alasdair Allan MSP commented: “This is the first Scottish budget to have realistic Scottish tax powers since 1707, making it one of the most important and significant budgets since devolution began. It was crucially important to public services in Scotland that MSPs passed this budget tonight.
“Finance secretary Derek Mackay recognised that we are a minority Government and sought to work constructively with other parties. I’m glad we have been able to reach an accommodation with the Greens and, as a result of this agreement, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will be getting £1.3 million more in funding than was originally proposed in the draft budget.
“Unfortunately, the Tories’ only contribution to the process was to demand tax cuts for the wealthiest 10 per cent of society, while the Labour party refused to engage, or to influence the budget in any way.
“This Scottish Government budget provides a strong funding deal for the Isles and for Scotland, with spending commitments in the NHS, education, infrastructure, environment and the economy.
“I think the budget is the better for the dialogue we engaged in with other parties. The fact that not all parties were prepared to offer constructive suggestions says a lot about them, but it will not stop the Scottish Government from delivering on its manifesto promises for the people of Scotland.”
Commenting on yesterday’s announcement that £160 million will be returned back to local government, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Leader, Councillor Angus Campbell, said: “It is to be welcomed that the Scottish Government, in reaching agreement with the Scottish Green Party, has revised its proposed budget.0
"However, it has to be remembered that we had been required to find savings of £4.4m so with the additional £990,000 revenue funding as a result of this agreement, the required savings are now £3.3m.
"There is also an additional £350,000 of capital which again is a welcome mitigating move but there is absolutely no doubt that this remains an extremely challenging period for local authorities.”
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is meeting to set its budget on Tuesday 7th February.
(This has been updated since being first posted)