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Ministers should use budget to improve people’s lives today

January 18, 2013 10:54 AM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Ahead of the Stage 1 debate of the Budget (Scotland) bill 2013-14, Willie RennieWillie Rennieleader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie MSP has set out his party's budget priorities. Mr Rennie will continue his calls to the Scottish Government to extend free nursery provision to more two-year-olds and to reverse planned cuts to college budgets.

Commenting, Mr Rennie said:

"Scottish Liberal Democrats will work constructively to influence the Government's budget. We did it last year for colleges, house building and early intervention and we will do it again this year. In tough economic times when over 200,000 people remain out of work and countless more are in need of opportunity, we need a budget which opens doors for people.

"The SNP government can choose to make real improvements to people's lives today. Since the starting gun was fired for the referendum on independence, Ministers have spent an increasing amount of time making promises instead of delivering them.

"Our college sector enables thousands of young people to get on in life. But only recently we learnt under the SNP, thousands of suitable applicants are being turned away from our colleges due to a lack of places. This doesn't help our young people and it doesn't help our economy.

"I will be urging the Finance Secretary to think again on planned cuts of £34.6 million to colleges. We will also be urging the Scottish Government to open doors for the economy of tomorrow.

"According to Save the Children, there is a 60 percent gap in attainment levels between the Scotland's poorest children and their classmates. By the age of three, children in poverty are lagging a full year behind their better-off peer group. Nobel Laureate James Heckman has worked out that the highest rate of return is before the age of three. So it's clear, if a two-year old misses out, they miss out forever. That is why it's so disappointing that Scottish Government has plans for just 1% of two-year-olds to get free childcare and education.

"Extending free childcare to more two-year-olds could give a triple boost to Scotland's economy. It will deliver opportunities for our children, it will allow more parents to return to work and the government's budget will provide more jobs to a sector dominated by women. These are fair decisions which will deliver opportunities for hard-working people across Scotland."