Gordon MacDonald: Budget benefit for Edinburgh and Scotland
Amid the extraordinary chaos of Westminster and Brexit, you could be forgiven for forgetting all about the Scottish Government's Budget plans - which were laid out by finance secretary Derek Mackay at the beginning of December.
This year’s Scottish Budget announcement took place at a time of political divisiveness and uncertainty against the backdrop of £2 billion worth of UK government funding cuts to Scotland.
The Prime Minister is remarkably still in office, despite a number of high-profile resignations, a vote of no-confidence and an insistence on ignoring the hundreds of experts who say that Brexit will devastate our economy and cause thousands of job losses.
However, the SNP in government are still getting on with the day job – delivering a budget which protects Scotland from the worst effects of Brexit and continuing Tory austerity.
This year’s budget forms part of the positive vision we as MSPs have for Scotland, and is particularly beneficial to citizens of Edinburgh.
NHS Lothian will see its funding increase by more than £57 million this year – to £1.4 billion in 2019/20. This extra funding will give our wonderful NHS staff and hospitals a boost, and help them to continue delivering first-class care to patients.
This is especially important at a time when Brexit is causing so much uncertainty for the many European NHS workers who live here.
The Scottish Government has also pledged £187 million worth of investment in City Deals across the country, including the Edinburgh and South-East Regional City Deal.
This deal represents the first step in a hugely ambitious and transformative plan for Edinburgh – one which will deliver dynamic projects, harness investment and hugely benefit our community. It will maximise the strengths and opportunities our city has to offer.
As just some examples of the transformative possibilities of the City Deal, public transport infrastructure will see huge investment, 41,000 houses will be delivered across Edinburgh and the city will hugely benefit from a new concert venue – a home for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
The Scottish Government has also committed to and will continue with the delivery of the electrification of the train line from Edinburgh to Glasgow via Shotts, which runs through my constituency.
With new electric trains on these electrified routes, the journey will become shorter and faster, and at a time where people are frustrated and with train delays and cancellations, it is now more important than ever that the SNP continue working towards our ambition of an excellent and fully accessible public transport with schemes such as this.
This Budget delivers the public services, cultural development, and economic investment that the people of Edinburgh have rightly come to expect, while mitigating the worst of the Tories’ harmful agenda of austerity and the uncertainty of what Brexit will mean for Scotland.
It uses the still limited powers of the Scottish Parliament to build a fairer Scotland and put the progressive values of this government into action.
n Gordon MacDonald is SNP MSP for Edinburgh Pentlands