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Comhairle nan Eilean Siar receive an additional £729,000 in the next year from the Scottish Government next financial year, says Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan.

The amended Scottish Budget will also see the Scottish Government begin free bus travel for those aged 18 and under from January 2021.

Police will benefit from a total uplift of £60 million in the next financial year, with £13m of additional investment in frontline services and a further £5m of additional capital investment, on top of the £42m already committed.

 Alasdair Allan MSP said the budget “invests a record £15bn in health and care services, delivers Scotland’s unique child payment to lift our youngest out of poverty and supports Scotland’s world-leading efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

“The Scottish Government had already backed Police Scotland with a budget increase of £42m. That will now increase that support to £60m overall with £50m of investment for frontline services.

“The Western Isles will benefit from our share of an extra £95m for local government – with an extra £729,000 of investment.

“We have made significant investments to tackle the climate crisis, with funding for a green deal, low carbon travel and £1.8bn of low emission infrastructure.

“The introduction of free bus travel for those aged 18 and under will make an enormous difference to young people – and alongside the £500 million bus infrastructure fund will help deliver a step change in the use of public transport.”

Commenting on the way that the Scottish Government has secured the support of the Scottish Green Party in passing this year’s budget, Scottish Labour Finance Spokesperson Rhoda Grant said:  “It is deeply disappointing to see the Scottish Green Party yet again sell our local councils, our environment and, indeed, themselves, short yet again.

“By kow-towing to Kate Forbes, the Greens have given the green light to the deep cuts faced by local government and have entirely abandoned their call for an end to further infrastructure construction.

“Just last week, the Greens’ Ross Greer said they would not support a budget unless it was a “climate emergency budget”. If this is a climate emergency budget, then I suggest Mr. Greer and his party reflect on their environmental credentials.

“As ever, it is the young people of Scotland, our local councils and the environment that will pay the price for the Greens 15 minutes of fame.”

Police Scotland chief Iain Livingstone said: "I welcome this additional funding and, while financial challenges remain, I recognise this is a significant increase in our allocation at a time of competing demands.

Meanwhile, the SNP Group at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are urging councillors to support their alternative budget plan which will prevent cuts to public services and avoid a sharp rise in council tax.

This week councillors are being asked to approve the budget for 20/21. The SNP Group's amendment will suggest utilising extra funds announced by the Scottish Government instead of putting it into balances.

SNP Group leader Councillor Gordon Murray said: “The SNP Group welcome the extra monies for local government announced by the Scottish Government.

“Our plan is to put this money directly to services, along with a council tax freeze, money for Bethesda and dental services in South Uist.

“We are avoiding making any cuts to services and we strongly urge councillors to support us. 

“Why sit on large reserves of cash when services need to be protected by reinvestment?”