Linda Fabiani MSP for East Kilbride has spoken about the pain felt by those public sector workers who have had their pay frozen until 2012/13. The announcement came last week in the Cabinet Secretary for Finance’s Comprehensive Spending Review which saw John Swinney forced to cope with cuts from Westminster which add up to £3.3bn over three years.
Linda said “I do not envy John having to balance a budget which contains such deep cuts from the Coalition Government at Westminster.
“Extending the freeze on public sector pay would not have been an easy decision to make. However by doing so, John has been able to guarantee no compulsory redundancies giving our valued public servants job security in this time of economic uncertainty.
“The Scottish Government is supporting the incomes of families working in the public sector who earn the lowest incomes by up-rating the ‘living-wage’ and promising a minimum pay increase of £250 for all those earning less than £21,000.
“There is a commitment to a social contract with the People of Scotland which is why the Council Tax has been frozen for the 5th year in a row to help boost household incomes, against a backdrop of rising inflation and increasing UK Government taxes.
“I believe the Cabinet Secretary has delivered a budget for families. Prescriptions and university tuition are free to all our citizens. The Health Budget has been protected and families can be assured that they will not burdened by the cost of care for elderly relatives through the continuing commitment on free personal care.
“The Warm Homes Fund will help to tackle fuel poverty and deliver renewable energy and energy-efficient homes in those communities that are worst affected. Our own South Lanarkshire College with its Eco-House has a strong part to play in the future of energy-efficient homes.
“In addition to the 25,000 apprenticeships, Opportunities for All will ensure that every 16-19 year old who is not in work will have a place in education or training. We have to deliver better outcomes for individuals, employers and ultimately the economy. Getting it right for every child will help us to achieve this.
“The Scottish Government’s budget published last week will prioritise growth and create new jobs. It will boost public sector capital investment, improve access to finance and leverage new private investment, enhance economic security to support confidence across the Scottish economy and take direct action to tackle unemployment.”
Finance Secretary John Swinney said “Last week we published a budget for growth. Despite the constraints on Scotland’s public finances we are investing in Scotland’s economy.
“The budget maintains our commitment to providing the most business friendly environment anywhere in the UK.
“Contrary to recent reports, the decisions we have taken will maintain the most generous package of reliefs available anywhere in the UK, worth on average more than 500 million pounds per annum over the 2010-15 revaluation cycle.
“Central to that relief package is the continuation of the Small Business Bonus Scheme, supporting tens of thousands of properties.”
Scotland’s public sector efficiency targets have been smashed for the third year in a row saving £2.2bn which can be reinvested in Scotland’s public services.
Finance Secretary John Swinney said “We want to see public services that maximise the impact of every pound and provide the greatest benefit to all the people of Scotland, in the face of cuts to our budget by the UK Government.
“The Scottish Government has pursued a vigorous programme of efficiency and public sector reform that is delivering results and driving improvements. In the first two years of the programme, we exceeded our targets by £300m and £400m. Last year, £2.276bn of efficiency savings were made – £673m above the target – through new ways of using resources, collaborating across public services or improving procurement.
“That money is being reinvested in the public sector to deliver frontline services or lever in new efficiencies. This is an impressive level of delivery and I welcome the commitment that all public sector staff are showing to make our public services the best they can be.
“Public bodies are required to deliver efficiencies of at least three per cent this financial year. Set against the deep cuts to Scotland’s budget from Westminster, the Spending Review for the next three years will intensify our focus on value for money and continue to squeeze every penny out of every pound to get the best, most efficient and effective public services.”
At this week’s Scotland Bill Committee, convened by Linda Fabiani, the devolution of certain taxes such as excise duty and corporation tax was discussed.
Linda said “as Scotland Bill Convener it is my job to ensure that Scotland gets the best deal possible from the Scotland Bill. After hearing from this weeks experts, it is my belief that giving more power to Scotland would enable us to have the economic levels to grow our economy and protect us from global financial uncertainty.”