Greens launch manifesto for public services

The Scottish Greens today launched their Holyrood 2011 manifesto,  pledging £2.6 billion over the next session of the Scottish Parliament to reverse the cuts to local authority services passed on by the SNP with Tory and Lib Dem support in John Swinney’s last budget.

The Greens are the only Holyrood party challenging the current cuts agenda and have instead set out how new revenue will be raised through fairer taxes. The measures to support local services are within a costed set of proposals that total more than £6.5bn of revenue and capital changes.

Earlier today the party published the results of a YouGov poll indicating a majority of Scots support this key Green campaign pledge, to invest in public services by raising additional revenue.

The Greens are proposing a new Land Value Tax to replace the Council Tax and business rates, raising new revenue from the better off, big business and untaxed business assets, and the party is also prepared to use the Single Variable Rate at 0.5p in the pound from 2013. The Greens also identify more than £1.8bn in capital savings that can be made by repairing the existing Forth Road Bridge rather than building an additional crossing and from scrapping the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route.

On top of the £2.6 billion identified for local services, the Greens are pledging £950 million investment in public transport infrastructure and revenue funding to reduce fares, £940 million for affordable housing, £904 million to fund further and higher education and to keep tuition free, and £500m to fund the party’s pledge to insulate all of Scotland’s homes.

Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Greens’ co-convenor and top candidate for the Glasgow region, said:

“This is a crucial election. UK Ministers are cutting budgets for public services like there’s no tomorrow, and all the other parties at Holyrood are debating how to hand those cuts on. All four are sticking with the Council Tax, which has always been unfair, and which is now no longer even under local control. Not one is prepared to do what it would take to challenge the ideological agenda of privatisation, service cuts for the public, and tax breaks for the better off. Governments of all colours in London and Edinburgh have neglected our environment, let inequality widen and narrowed our politics.

“Only the Greens are offering an alternative to this failed agenda. We will scrap Council Tax and invest in the things that matter, from education and housing to public transport and local services. The Scottish Parliament was created for this, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at the other parties’ manifestos. We’ll protect Scotland’s public services and build the low-carbon economy the other parties only talk about, by cutting energy bills, creating jobs and tackling climate change.”

Alison Johnstone, the Scottish Greens’ top candidate for Lothian region, said:

“Whoever becomes First Minister, it’s clear they won’t have an overall majority. If either Alex Salmond or Iain Gray has to depend on one of the Westminster coalition to get a budget through, heaven help anyone in Scotland who relies on public services, from education to housing, transport, social work and the rest. If Greens hold the balance of power, we will insist that the investment is made, the jobs protected, and free education defended. It’s what the public clearly want, and only a second vote for the Greens can deliver it.”

Notes

1. The Scottish Greens’ Holyrood 2011 manifesto is available on the Party’s website as a pdf download:

http://scot.gr/holyrood2011

2. YouGov polled 1,135 Scottish adults online between 13th – 15th April 2011. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+).

The question asked was as follows:

The UK Government has cut funding to the Scottish Parliament by £1.3bn this year. To what extent do you agree with the following statement?

“The Scottish Government should find ways to limit cuts to Scottish public services by raising their own taxes and other revenue”

Of those expressing a view, the results were as follows:

Strongly agree                      11

Tend to agree                       40

TOTAL AGREE                         51

Neither agree nor disagree    21

Tend to disagree                          14

Strongly disagree                         14

TOTAL DISAGREE                      29

9% said they did not know. Totals exceed 100% because of rounding.

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