Scottish budget 2020-21: SNP and Greens agree deal

Kate Forbes and Patrick Harvie

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Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and Green co-leader Patrick Harvie welcomed the agreement

The SNP-run Scottish government has agreed a deal with the Greens to get its budget plans through Holyrood.

The agreement between the two parties will see extra funding for local government and the police and a free bus travel scheme for under-18s.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said the budget agreement would “provide certainty for communities, businesses and public services”.

The deal means the budget is certain to be passed by the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Forbes stepped in to deliver the budget the day after Derek Mackay resigned as finance secretary, and was subsequently appointed to replace him.

The budget does not contain any changes to income tax rates, with extra money being spent on health, education and investment aimed at tackling the “climate emergency”.

Money and forms


Scottish Budget 2020/21

Draft Income Tax plan

  • 19%Starter rate

  • 20%Basic rate

  • 21%Intermediate rate

  • 41%Higher rate

  • 46%Top rate

Source: Scottish Government

The deal with the Greens will see an extra £95m going to local authorities, as well as a commitment to deliver a “national concessionary travel scheme” providing free bus travel for under-18s by January 2021.

Ministers will also commit an extra £18m to police services and £45m to low carbon projects, including energy efficiency projects and active travel.

The changes will be paid for using underspends, longer term income from non-domestic rates and the fossil fuel levy.

MSPs will vote on the initial proposals on Thursday, with the terms of the deal with the Greens to be added in the following week when the budget is examined by a committee of MSPs.

The tax rates are expected to be signed off on Wednesday 4 March, with the final vote on the budget bill the following day.

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Ms Forbes stepped in to deliver the budget after the resignation of Derek Mackay

Ms Forbes said she was “pleased to have reached an agreement”, particularly given the “uncertainty” of the UK government not yet having set its budget.

She said the budget included “record investment” in health services and “significant investments to tackle the climate crisis”.

She said: “I want to thank all parties for the constructive way in which they have approached this year’s discussions.

“While it is not possible to meet every party’s demands in full, I believe in reaching formal agreement with the Green Party I am also delivering on key asks from every party and I encourage all MSPs to consider giving their support to Scotland’s budget.”

Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said free bus travel would be a “transformational step towards tackling the climate emergency”.

He added: “Clearly, a Green budget would do even more to tackle the climate emergency, but securing this important free bus travel deal for the next generation builds on the powers we won for local councils to take control of local bus services.”

The Scottish Conservatives were also involved in detailed talks with Ms Forbes, saying they could back the proposals if extra funds went to drug rehabilitation and local authorities without tax rates going up.

Scottish Labour, which had called for a wider free bus travel system, said it was “deeply disappointing to see the Scottish Green Party yet again sell our local councils, our environment and indeed themselves short yet again”.

The Scottish Lib Dems meanwhile said they would vote against the budget as long as the SNP continued to push for an independence referendum in 2020, with leader Willie Rennie saying this was “stopping an awful lot else being agreed”.

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