Wednesday, 16 December 2015

A Budget for growth and reform

Swinney announces £500 million boost for NHS and freezes Income Tax and Council Tax

In a budget that will promote growth in the economy and reform public services, Deputy First Minister John Swinney today (Wednesday) announced an injection of an additional half a billion pounds for health boards, taking total spending to a record of nearly £13 billion.

And, to support the most significant reform since the foundation of the NHS, Mr Swinney announced £250 million for the integration of health and social care, ushering in a fundamental realignment of the way the NHS and Local Government deliver care.

Mr Swinney also set the Scottish Rate of Income Tax (SRIT) for the first time and, in a move designed to protect the poorest taxpayers, the Deputy First Minister froze income tax by proposing a rate of ten pence. This means total income tax rates remain unchanged.

To protect household budgets already hit by UK Government austerity, the Budget proposes the 9th successive freeze in Council Tax – a saving of £1,500 for an average band D household.

Mr Swinney also announced he is protecting the Small Business Bonus - sheltering around 100,000 small firms from business rates – and investing in the future economic health of the nation through £345 million for research and innovation and £1 billion of investment in higher education. In order to support this investment, he announced he is asking Scotland’s biggest businesses to pay more by increasing the Large Business Supplement.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“The spending plans that I am announcing today will equip the country for the future and lay the foundations for the reforms that will define the next parliament - reforms that will reshape our health and social care services, deliver a step change in educational attainment, deliver a fairer system of local taxation and use new powers over tax and welfare in a way that supports our central purpose.

“This Budget is driven by two themes: supporting inclusive growth and protecting and reforming public services. We will deliver inclusive growth by focusing on investment in innovation, infrastructure, education and skills, and by maintaining a competitive business environment.

“And we will protect and reform public services by delivering on the Christie Commission approach of service integration at local level, prevention and improving outcomes for individuals.

“The current financial landscape presents us with a challenge and a choice. Scotland can meekly accept these UK Government cuts or we can rise to the challenge and chose a Scottish alternative to austerity. We choose to rise to the challenge. We choose the Scottish alternative. We choose to put reform and growth at the heart of this Budget.”
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