Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed today’s Draft Budget announcement from Finance Secretary Derek Mackay for the positive effect it will have on the Western Isles.

The budget delivers progressive reforms to Scotland’s income tax system, with modest increases on higher earners, while a majority of taxpayers will pay less than in the rest of the UK. Polling has found that most Scots back an increase in income tax for those who can afford it.

Mr Mackay also outlined plans to spend an additional £400 million on the NHS, an expansion in childcare, more spending on broadband, extra funding for our police and fire services – and a pay rise for hard-working public sector employees.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented:

“Today’s announcement from the Finance Secretary is a Scottish budget that will protect the NHS and public services, support low earners and unlock Scotland’s economic potential. There was a great deal in the budget for the islands.

“It was announced that the procurement exercise for the Reaching 100% (R100) programme to delivery superfast broadband to every household was starting today and being backed by £600 million of public investment. It is disappointing that, despite this being an issue reserved to Westminster, the Finance Secretary confirmed the UK Government had only contributed £21 million towards this exercise.

“Other important measures in the budget include the allocation of additional funding to support the landmark step of increasing Carer’s Allowance. This is something which will support the many carers in the islands. Despite a £200 million cut to Scotland’s block grant by the Tories, day-to-day local government spending has been protected while capital budgets have been increased.

“We are using the tax powers of the Scottish Parliament to protect Scotland from Tory Austerity as best we can. Today’s budget delivers lower income tax for the vast majority of Scots, with every worker earning less than £33,000 paying less in tax next year while we protect vital public services across the islands. For context, median gross pay in the Western Isles is just over £19,000.

“Scotland has also become the first part of the UK to lift the public sector pay cap. Starting next year, public sector workers earning up to £30,000 can look forward to a 3% rise.

“In the face of the challenges presented by a cut to Scottish Government funding, ongoing Tory austerity, and their extreme Brexit, this budget provides the investment we need to meet these challenges.”

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