More ‘shortbread’ plea gets short shrift from the SNP, says Baillie

Jackie Baillie MSP – asked for more to address poverty and inequality.

Scotland’s SNP government have kept the lid firmly on the shortbread tin this Christmas – despite a plea from Jackie Baillie.

They have no plans to dish out additional funds which would address poverty and inequality, according to the Dumbarton and Lomond MSP.

Ms Baillie said: “On top of the cuts to local government, the Scottish Government has chosen not to use their powers to address poverty and inequality.

“Scottish Labour called for a £5 per week increase on Child Benefit which would lift 30,000 children out of poverty; a freeze on ScotRail fares in the New Year and a £10 million cash injection into discretionary housing payments to help tackle the roll out of Universal Credit.

“In addition, the party called for a £20 million Community Policing Fund to reverse local police cuts.”

She has slammed the cuts made to local government following the Scottish Government’s draft budget plans which were presented to Parliament last week.

The MSP said: “While the Scottish Government presented their settlement for local government in 2019-20 as an increase, the reality is that local authorities across the country have had their core budgets cut by more than a staggering £300 million.

“The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) has said that the Scottish Government’s settlement will leave Scottish local authorities having to make swingeing cuts to services due to the impact of new commitments made by the Scottish Government.

“These new commitments include the extension of early learning and childcare to 1140 hours, for which the Scottish Government have ring-fenced £234 million of council budgets; the investment in integration which will cost £120 million; Frank’s Law – which will see the introduction of free personal care for everyone who requires it, regardless of age – which will cost an additional £30 million and various other commitments amounting to £16 million in total. Whilst these initiatives are welcome, the money can only be spent for this purpose and core budgets for existing services have been slashed.

“This budget does nothing to address austerity or lift people out of poverty. The cuts to local government budgets will adversely impact on vital public services.

“The new commitments made by the Scottish Government are, of course, welcome but expecting local government to makes cuts to cope with slashed core funding is simply unacceptable.

“The Scottish Government should be using the powers of the parliament to address the deep inequality in our society. Scottish Labour’s key budget wishes would go a long way to addressing this inequality and helping those who are the most vulnerable in our community.

“I hope that the Scottish Government will look again at the funding allocations and present a budget which helps those who are most in need.”

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