Angus benefits from budget

20140305- John Swinney @ Park Hotel. 'Finance Minister John Swinney at a Q&A session on the Yes Vote at the Park Hotel, Montrose. ''No Use Without Payment. 'Copyright Andy Thompson Photography.

20140305- John Swinney @ Park Hotel. 'Finance Minister John Swinney at a Q&A session on the Yes Vote at the Park Hotel, Montrose. ''No Use Without Payment. 'Copyright Andy Thompson Photography.

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Thursday’s budget delivered on the ask of the Scottish people for a fairer and more prosperous Scotland Finance Secretary John Swinney said. And Angus has benefited from the budget.

Setting out the budget to parliament, Mr Swinney said the plans, which also respond to the improved economic picture, would make Scotland a more prosperous country, tackle inequalities and continue to protect and invest in Scotland’s public services.

The Finance Secretary said the budget would build on the Scottish Government’s track record since 2007 and take steps to meet the aspirations for Scotland set out in the recent referendum campaign.

Mr Swinney outlined that people living in Angus will benefit from average savings of around £1,200 thanks to extra money provided to freeze council tax since 2007, free prescriptions, free school meals, free personal care for the elderly, 600 hours of free childcare for three and four-year-olds and the most vulnerable two-year-olds, more affordable housing, continued measures to fully mitigate the Bedroom Tax, a commitment to the Living Wage, quality healthcare and a protected NHS budget,and 1,000 additional police officers across Scotland’s streets.

In addition to this Angus will receive a share of the £10.8 billion local government allocation, £3.25 million to boost its housing stock.

This comes on top of millions of pounds worth of investment to help fund the new Brechin High School and Forfar Academy.

Mr Swinney said: “We want to build a Scotland which shares its wealth with every one of its people, which is why this budget takes action to prioritise policies that help hard working families, protect the vulnerable and grow our economy.

“By providing the money to allow councils to freeze the Council Tax for the eighth year in a row we are putting cash back into the pockets of people across the country.

“It’s crucial that we develop our health service and meet the changing demands of people living in Angus, which is why we are also protecting the budget for the NHS.

“We have increased our spend on health and social care in NHS Tayside, and are developing top-class services for people in Angus through projects such as the new hospital at Stracathro which formed part of NHS Tayside’s mental health development project, and the redevelopment of the Nuclear Medicine Unit at Ninewells Hospital. By increasing our spend in 2015/16 we will maintain estates and replace equipment in the NHS Tayside area.”

The budget comes at a time when record numbers of Scottish people are in employment. Employment levels rose by 87,000 over the year to reach 2,623,000 which is the highest levels since records began.

Mr Swinney added: “Our economy is now back above pre-recession levels. At this time it is only right that everyone in Scotland should have access to good quality, affordable homes where they can be safe and warm.

“We have already delivered more than 21,000 affordable homes in Scotland. This £3.25 million boost to affordable housing in Angus will help even more people get their foot on the housing ladder.

“Westminster cuts to our spending make conditions very challenging for Scotland and we are doing everything possible to tackle these effects on some of the lowest paid people in our communities.

“Despite these pressures we are protecting Angus’s budget and continuing to invest in the area. We have maintained levels of local government funding and allocated extra money for new responsibilities including our pre-school nursery care for children.

“These moves will help parents get back into work and give children a better start in life. This budget delivers a fair deal for the people of Angus.”