Don hits back at budget critics

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ANGUS MSP Nigel Don has defended the Scottish Government’s funding allocation for further education colleges in the wake of criticism from Montrose Councillor David May.

Mr May last week said he “could not believe” seeing Mr Don “applauding a cut of £25 million” during recent televised budget discussions and expressed his disappointment that the colleges’ budgets are again faced with being slashed.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie also said that he found it “astonishing” that there was “celebration” on the SNP benches when the cut was announced.

Mr Don this week pointed out that all parties had an opportunity to put forward amendments to the proposals in Parliament and accused them of “playing party politics” with colleges.

He said: “I welcome the fact that John Swinney has managed, in the most challenging of financial circumstances, to find an additional £10 million for colleges in 2013-14 an extra £51 million for 2014-15.

“Those of us who live in the real world recognise that when the Tory-Lib-Dem Government at Westminster slashes the Scottish budget then cuts will have to be made here in Scotland.

“And it is worth noting that even with a reduction in funding, the further education sector will receive £522 million for each of the next two years – some £12 million more per year than at any time prior to the SNP coming into government, including when the Lib Dems were in coalition at Holyrood.

“The budget process was enlightening. The opposition parties, Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems, all had the opportunity to put forward amendments to the proposed budget. They could have eliminated cuts in the FE sector – but to do so they’d have had to find the money from somewhere else.

“Actually they could not even put together their own budget but simply voted against the Scottish Government’s. Bereft of any idea how to run a country, they were simply playing party politics with colleges.”