Greens secure budget agreement on council funds and public sector pay

The Scottish Greens are leading the change in Scottish politics, according to party co-convener Patrick Harvie, who this afternoon welcomed details of the Scottish Government’s agreement to amend its 2018-19 budget to include key Green demands, including:

* £170m more for local council services and to help pay fair wages. This more than reverses all of the £157m of local government cuts proposed by the SNP.

* 73,000 more public sector workers such as nurses and teachers will get a pay rise. The inflation-based pay policy will now cover 75 per cent of workers rather than 51 per cent.

* Fairer taxes. Everyone getting less than the average wage will pay no or less income tax. The SNP’s proposed tax cut for high earners is cancelled.

* A new community rail fund to help campaign groups get stations reopened and new lines into construction.

* An extra £2million for insulating homes, fixing leaky windows and tackling fuel poverty.

* Reduce the proportion of high-carbon capital projects such as new trunk roads and increase the proportion of low-carbon capital projects such as rail, buses and warm homes – a commitment which is to be extended each year for the rest of the parliament.

* Protection for whales, dolphins and other marine life with funding for four marine conservation areas.

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said:

“Greens stand firmly with local communities and public sector workers affected by years of cuts and closures. Last year we stopped the cuts; this year we’ve pushed the government even further, and delivered a real-terms increase in funding, including a fair contribution towards the additional pressures councils are facing.

“This deal is just the latest example of Greens leading the change in Scottish politics, from shifting the SNP and Labour’s positions on income tax toward a fairer structure, securing a ban on fracking, getting Air Departure Tax cuts removed from the budget, and delivering changes in social security to stop sanctions and ensure low-income families get the support they are entitled to.

“While other parties continue to posture from the sidelines, Greens are making Scotland fairer. Today’s agreement is the latest step in a journey on restoring financial powers at local level, on which we will need to see far more progress before next year’s budget, as the annual fight against council cuts must not continue.”

Green Finance spokesperson on City of Edinburgh Council, Cllr Gavin Corbett added

“The budget deal today means an extra £12.4 million for council services in the city, and, in total, means £27 million more in the budget than when the council went to budget consultation.  That means it is time to look again at cuts proposed and at the need to invest in school repairs, homelessness, social care and greening the city.”