John Swinney boosts bid to tackle inequality

John Swinney says that his budget aims to aid economy. Picture: Getty

John Swinney says that his budget aims to aid economy. Picture: Getty

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Further measures to try to tackle inequality and boost Scotland’s economy will be unveiled by the Deputy First Minister as Holyrood debates next year’s budget.

MSPs are today expected to grant final approval to John Swinney’s spending plans for 2015-16, which will see NHS funding rise to more than £12 billion for the first time.

Mr Swinney said his budget is “focused on tackling inequality, investing in our economy and protecting and reforming our public services”. He added he looks forward to outlining the “further steps the Scottish Government will take to tackle inequality and boost the economy”.

The Scottish Government has already put forward plans to spend £4.5bn on infrastructure investment in 2015-16. Investment of more than £390 million should provide 6,000 new affordable homes, while more than £300m is to be spent extending free childcare to three and four-year-olds and some vulnerable two-year-olds.

In addition, £81m has been set aside to mitigate against changes to housing benefit which have been branded the bedroom tax, with further money being made available to allow local authorities to continue the council tax freeze.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie is pressing the Scottish Government to increase childcare funding further, saying there is a “damaging gap” between provision north and south of the Border, resulting in 8,000 two-year-olds missing out.

He said: “I want John Swinney to back our costed and reasonable plans which would enable more children to get on in life.”

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