Vote for protection against Brexit, Derek Mackay urges MSPs

Derek Mackay has devoted 'an extra �730m to health and care services. Picture: Andrew Cowan/PA
Derek Mackay has devoted 'an extra �730m to health and care services. Picture: Andrew Cowan/PA
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Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has urged opposition parties at Holyrood to support his budget as a way of protecting Scotland’s economy from the impact of Brexit.

Mackay delivered his draft budget last week, promising an extra £730 million for health and social care and more investment to raise standards in schools.

But Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens, who the minority SNP government have relied on to pass previous budgets, accused Mackay of “sleight of hand” after independent analysis by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Spice) showed there would be a £300m cut to local services.

The Lib Dems previously walked away from formal budget discussions citing the SNP’s refusal to set aside the issue of a second independence referendum.

Meanwhile, the Tories criticised the finance secretary for a “pay more, get less budget”, claiming some Scots will pay more in taxes while receiving fewer public services in return.

Mackay said: “The Scottish budget seeks to strengthen and prepare our economy for the future, whatever our relationship with the EU, and importantly, provides businesses in Scotland with much needed economic stability.

“In the coming weeks and months, I will work with all parties to build consensus for our spending plans in parliament and ensure we pass this budget, which will help protect Scotland’s future prosperity.

“The Scottish budget provides an increase of almost £730m for our health and care services, invests more than £180m to raise attainment in our schools, gives a vital boost to our economy through a £5 billion infrastructure programme and provides local government with a real terms increase in overall support through a £11.1bn settlement.”

Last week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hinted she was ready to offer concessions to the Greens or Labour if they came forward with costed suggestions.

The Scottish Fiscal Commission has warned growth in the economy is likely to remain sluggish due to continued uncertainty about Brexit.

It said that while the economy would grow by more than expected in the next year, longer term trends were “subdued”.