Scottish Greens reluctant to pledge support for SNP budget

Scottish Greens leader Patrick Harvie. Picture: John Devlin
Scottish Greens leader Patrick Harvie. Picture: John Devlin
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Scottish Greens leader Patrick Harvie has issued a warning to Finance Secretary Derek Mackay that his party is not yet ready to offer its support ahead of this week’s budget.

It has emerged that formal talks between the Greens and the SNP are yet to begin, with the smaller party insisting its preconditions for support have not been met.

The SNP rely on Green MSPs to give them the necessary numbers to get the budget approved at Holyrood.

Harvie said he wanted to remind the Finance Secretary that the Greens are the only party ever to bring down a Scottish budget.

He said that while discussions have taken place, there has been no “meaningful progress” on the Greens’ local tax reform agenda, which includes specific proposals on council tax and business rates.

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Harvie said: “Scotland’s system of funding our vital local services is broken, and we urgently need the reforms which almost every party agreed to before the last election.

“Since then the government has stalled and this cannot be allowed to go on.

“Green influence has reversed cuts to local councils for the last two years, and we have delivered over £300 million extra for front line services such as schools and social care.

“But given the pressure from a decade-long squeeze on funds and growing demand for services, we need wider reform.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie announced his party had pulled out of budget talks with the government, citing the SNP’s insistence that “their damaging and costly plan for an independence referendum had to stay on the table” as the reason.

Areas of common interest were discussed over two meetings between the SNP and the Lib Dems, Rennie said, with his party wanting more cash for mental health services, local councils and teachers’ pay.

The Lib Dem said that it was “disappointing” that the SNP administration had been unable to “set aside their independence plans”.