I was glad to take part in the final stage of the Scottish Government’s budget debate.

Following the debate, MSPs voted to pass the SNP budget for the coming financial year, securing a cash boost for the NHS while offering economic stability in the face of Tory Brexit chaos.

The Scottish Government is committed to delivering inclusive economic growth across all of Scotland and the 2019/20 budget sets out a continued commitment to invest in regeneration activity to stimulate sustainable and inclusive growth and to empower and improve the wellbeing of people and communities.

The budget provides local authorities with £11.2billion in 2019/20, with East Renfrewshire Council set to receive a £3.8million boost and Renfrewshire Council set to receive a £10.8m boost.

Further contribution to education and raising attainment in schools has also been outlined, with £180m going towards the Attainment Challenge Fund and £120m going directly to headteachers through the Pupil Equity Fund.

Having received £10.4m in Scottish Government Attainment Challenge funding since June 2016, Renfrewshire is the first area to be rated “excellent” for its progress in improving learning and closing the attainment gap across all measures.

Despite challenging circumstances, I am sure the boost offered by the new budget will only increase this commendable progress.

This budget also continues to deliver a progressive income tax system and thereby confirms Scotland as the fairest taxed part of the UK, keeping council tax increases below the five per cent cap in England, while ensuring 55 per cent of income taxpayers will pay less in Scotland than they would elsewhere in the UK.

In 2019/20, the Scottish Government will continue its track record in the delivery of housing.

The affordable housing supply programme has confirmed a resource planning assumption of £15.6m for Renfrewshire.

The council’s strategic housing investment plan indicates a total of 286 new homes will be completed in 2019/20, with site starts planned for a further 839.

I am also delighted the Scottish Government’s commitment to local jobs and communities across Renfrewshire South is clear, with the budget providing the most generous package of business rates reliefs in the UK – £2.25m in East Renfrewshire and £6.75m in Renfrewshire – and ensuring more than 90 per cent of properties in Scotland will be charged a lower tax rate than other parts of the UK.

Scotland’s economy continues to grow and the unemployment rate is currently the lowest on record. However, our prosperity is being put at risk by the increasing uncertainty surrounding Brexit and, in particular, the disastrous ‘No Deal’ scenario.

Despite difficult circumstances, the Scottish Government will use all powers and resources at its disposal, with a clear focus on national priorities. This budget signifies another important step to prepare for all outcomes and its welcome passage provides a £42.5bn investment in our public services and economy.

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