Finance Secretary Kate Forbes MSP has struck a deal with the Green Party which guarantees that Scotland’s Budget Bill will be passed tomorrow.
As well as above inflation funding increases for the NHS, Police Scotland and local government, and £90 million to freeze the council tax, the budget includes the phased introduction of free school meals for all primary pupils, an enhanced public sector pay deal, new Pandemic Support Payments and additional funding to support environmental, active travel and energy efficiency initiatives.
Talks are continuing ahead of tomorrow's Stage 3 debate with the Liberal Democrats, who voted for the budget at Stage 1 in exchange for increased spending on mental health, business support and education recovery.
The new commitments build on the budget’s existing measures to address the challenges of the ongoing pandemic and lay the foundations for recovery. These include meeting the main ask of business by extending 100% rates relief for the retail, hospitality, leisure, aviation and newspaper sectors for a further 12 months - considerably exceeding the relief offered in England - supporting families by allocating money for a council tax freeze and providing record £16 billion to the NHS.
The new initiatives include:
The phased introduction of free school meals to all primary school children by August 2022
An £800 pay rise for public sector workers earning up to £25,000, and a 2% increase for those earning over £25,000 up to £40,000.
Extending free bus travel to under people aged under 22.
£40 million to support the green recovery, including a further £15 million for active travel, £10 million for energy efficiency, £10 million for biodiversity and £5 million for agri-environmental measures
Pandemic Support Payments of £130 to households receiving council tax reduction and two payments of £100 to families of children qualifying for free school meals