Green MSP for West Scotland Ross Greer has hailed major budget concessions won by his party from the Scottish Government, will which cancel £5.2 million of expected cuts Renfrewshire may have faced under initial proposals by the Scottish Government.
The deal, worth £5.2 million for Renfrewshire Council, as part of a £170m overall improvement for local councils, will protect the future of vital locals services such as education, social care, road & pavement maintenance, and waste collection.
The Greens also secured a major boost for local public sector workers such as teachers, moving the salary threshold at which the pay rise decreases from 3% to 2% from £30,000 to £36,500. Nationally this means that 70% of teachers will receive the 3% rise, in line with inflation, rather than the 13% who would have under the SNP’s draft proposals.
West Scotland MSP Ross Greer, said: “This budget deal is a big win for Renfrewshire. Between this year and last, the Greens have taken over ten million pounds of proposed cuts to public services in Renfrewshire off the table and on top of that, this year we have secured a better pay settlement for hard pressed public sector workers, the opportunity to radically improve local public transport and greater action on fuel poverty. Most importantly, this means potential cuts to education and social care can be ditched.
“The budget agreement will see those earning lower than average incomes pay less income tax, it will ensure the vast majority of public sector staff – including nurses and teachers – receive a pay rise linked to inflation and provide more investment in low-carbon infrastructure, such as rail links that communities need. This shows the value of electing Green MSPs who are serious about winning progress for our communities rather than the unfortunate posturing and theatrics of other opposition parties.”
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.”
The Scottish Government’s agreement to amend its 2018-19 budget to include key Green demands, include:
- £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 Scottish Government
- 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
- Taxes – everyone getting less than the average wage will pay no or less income tax
- 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