Budget positive for Western Isles

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Scottish Finance Minister John Swinney announced his Draft Budget for 2013/14 today (Thursday) which will bring some positives for the Western Isles.

There will be a real terms increase in funding to NHS Western Isles giving them £60.7m, an extra £1.6m compared to 2012/13. In 2014/15 this will rise again to £62.2m.

The draft budget presented to the Scottish Parliament also includeS an increase in funding to Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) with a committment to retain the Air Discount Scheme (ADS) and fund PSP air services to Barra.

RET spending also increases to £4.5m and then to £6m in 2013/14.

Setting out the budget to Parliament, Finance Secretary John Swinney pledged £180 million over two years for construction, skills and employment and a green economic stimulus. He also confirmed more rapid delivery of the Schools for the Future programme worth £80 million.

Reinforcing the Government’s commitment to young people Mr Swinney announced an initiative to create up to 10,000 job opportunities for young Scots.

The Budget maintains the Government’s commitments to a council tax freeze, police numbers, no tuition fees, free prescriptions and concessionary travel, with protection for the NHS budget.

Announcements today include:

£40 million for affordable housing, starting this year

£80 million Schools for the Future programme through NPD

Creation of an Energy Skills Academy

Employer recruitment initiative for young people

£17 million for college education and student support

Commitment to the Living Wage

£6 million for cycling

£1 million for Elite athletes

£2.5 million for hybrid buses

£1.5 million for VisitScotland

£1 million for historic buildings

The Finance Secretary also confirmed a 1% increase for most Government and NHS employees, with additional support for the low paid, continued implementation of the Scottish Living Wage and no compulsory redundancies.