Some good news in Willie Rennie’s letter this afternoon. Let’s hope some of the benefits will be seen in our local area soon.
I am sending this short note to update you on the outcome of the Budget voted on in the Scottish Parliament today.
My colleagues and I have been in detailed discussions with Scottish ministers for some time to secure improvements to the Budget. Today saw some fruits from that work. As a result the Liberal Democrat MSPs were able to support the Budget. It’s not perfect by any means, but good enough to vote for.
You may have seen in the news that the Scottish Government has produced, at the eleventh hour, extra money for colleges to reverse their proposed cut in student support and increase the money going into colleges.
You will know that, week after week since September, I have challenged the First Minister and his government to do the ‘right thing’ for colleges. I have even shown him where he has the extra money available from the UK Government to make it happen.
This year is the year when Scotland’s colleges need us most, and we need colleges most. They give opportunity for all, they tackle social inequality and they work for every community.
That is why Liberal Democrats put them front and centre for support in this Budget. That pressure has paid off. Thousands of students will benefit.
I am also pleased to say that we have had some success in persuading the SNP to increase investment in affordable housing. This is something that many party members have asked me to give high priority to. The same is true for early intervention which has been a longstanding campaign for our party.
It doesn’t stop here. Our challenge over the months ahead is to make sure that the Scottish Government is fully focused on tackling the economy and unemployment.
I will keep you up to date as we go forward.
Willie Rennie MSP
Leader, Scottish Liberal Democrats