The Debating Chamber of the Scottish Parliament

Image courtesy of Anita363 via flickr

On Monday the Scottish Green Party released their proposals to amend the draft budget before Holyrood today, focussing on protecting education and housing (including a programme of home insulation we’ve been pushing for for a while).

We’re likely to hear a lot over the next few months, and possibly years, about how councils and devolved administrations have no choice but to implement cuts, that it’s all the fault of Westminster and there’s nothing they can do. These proposals from Patrick et al. show that that’s not the whole story, though. We do have options for raising money and we do have control over how we spend what money we have. We can choose to spend our money on expensive road projects and executive salaries, we can outsource services and sell off our libraries or we can choose to use what revenue powers we have to protect people’s homes and education.

It’s good to see that at least one party in the Scottish parliament has chosen the latter route and it’s encouraging, too, to see that they’ve done their sums and calculated exactly where the revenue they need is going to come from. That should make it much harder for the other parties to claim that they’d like to protect services but just can’t see a way to do it, that we’re being hopelessly unrealistic and utopian. These are serious suggestions and I hope the other parties in Holyrood take them as such.

As Pat says: “It’s not too late even now for the SNP to reconsider the cuts they have set out…This Budget is a defining moment for Holyrood – do MSPs of all parties have the vision and the determination to do things differently, or would they rather cling to George Osborne’s coat-tails?”

Proposals

Savings and additional revenue
* Delay additional Forth Road Bridge by a year to allow current work to be evaluated: £200m (see p98 of the Draft Budget)
* Bring empty properties into non-domestic rates, as in England and Wales: £75m
* Bring urban vacant land (“land banks”) into non-domestic rates: £49.6m (see here)
* Raise the Large Business Supplement from 0.7p to 2p: £68.7m
Total: £393.3m

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

About Alasdair Thompson

Alasdair co-founded Bright Green Scotland in 2009.