Scotland

In quotes: Scottish budget reaction

Scotland's Finance Secretary John Swinney has announced the SNP government's budget plans.

He is planning to reduce public sector costs in the year ahead, through a pay freeze and an end to big bonuses.

Here, figures from across Scotland give their reaction to the proposals.

Andy Kerr, Scottish Labour finance spokesman

This government has failed. It has put party before nation, self-interest before public interest and the finance secretary's own job before those of the people he is supposed to serve.

He is not running a country - he is running an election campaign. It is outrageous that our local authorities, health service, our universities, further education colleges, police and fire services are being denied the ability to plan effectively.

They are all demanding clarity so that they too can set budgets, deliver services and reassure staff, but they cannot because of the SNP.

Tavish Scott, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader

Today's budget is aimed at political gain, not at the long-term interests of the Scottish people.

So while some steps are right, much of the real action that needs to be taken to fund services is deferred.

The Scottish government were given monies for four years. Yet today schools, hospitals and care homes didn't get the certainty of four-year figures.

That's unfair on so many hard-working public servants that deserved certainty today.

Conservative transport spokesman, Jackson Carlaw

It is entirely fair that the roads budget should shoulder its share of savings, not least because of the costs involved in the new Forth crossing.

It would, however, be regrettable if the reduction in the budget for the maintenance and improvement of our motorways and trunk roads led to greater long term costs as a result of the roads infrastructure being allowed to deteriorate below an acceptable standard.

It is therefore vital that remaining investment be firmly focused on the trunk routes in the most urgent need, and those which are of the greatest strategic importance to the Scottish economy.

Pat Watters, Cosla president

Given the government's priorities on health this is the best deal we could negotiate for Scottish local government.

Nobody is saying it is brilliant, the money coming to Scotland is down but there is a significant level of "protection" for local government compared to other parts of the public sector.

Make no mistake this budget represents a cut and we are sharing the pain of a cuts agenda in the public sector - really tough decisions lie ahead and today's announcement is only the beginning.

Andy Willox, the Federation of Small Businesses

On the day that the number of Scots unemployed increases once again, our collective priority needs to be job creation and sustainability.

Small businesses have a track record of creating jobs. We need more emphasis and support placed on these businesses - no matter their sector or location.

Calum Steele, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation

Today's announcement represents a 2.6% cut in police budgets for 2011/12. Even discounting the effects of inflation, this will create real challenges for the police service in Scotland.

However, given the current economic climate and the serious issues faced by the Scottish government, the Scottish Police Federation is pleased the government has committed to maintaining the 1,000 extra police officers currently in place, which will help ensure the continued safety of the public across the country.

Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce

On the positive side is the government's continued commitment to essential infrastructure projects such as the new Forth Road Bridge, Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, A96 improvements and M8 upgrade.

Transport projects in particular will deliver long term economic benefits to Scotland and the Scottish government's continued commitment to this investment, against a background of declining capital budgets, is very welcome indeed.

Less welcome is the news that large retailers are to face further pain through further increases in business rates.

As if the abolition of transitional relief this year was not enough, this is a hammer blow to a sector that has been creating jobs in Scotland throughout the recession.

Michael Levack, Scottish Building Federation chief executive

Heading into today's announcement, the settlement from last month's UK spending review suggested that the capital heading of the Scottish budget would have to bear the entire burden of a £900m cut in public spending next year.

In this context, John Swinney's announcement that £100m will be transferred to the capital heading of the budget is clearly very welcome news for the construction industry. But the burden of these cuts on capital spending is still a heavy one.

I listened with particular interest to Mr Swinney's proposal to establish a new £2.5bn programme of revenue-financed investment for construction projects. We now need to see the detail of how this programme will be implemented on the ground.

Lucy McTernan, CEO of Citizens Advice Scotland

With personal debt at an all time high and living costs still rising in Scotland, the announcement of the budget cuts, such as, the public sector workers pay freeze will mean that hard working families and individuals are hit the hardest.

These are people who live in every community in Scotland who have mortgages and consumer debt, but will now have less income in their pockets to service these debts.

Judith Robertson, head of Oxfam Scotland

On the day when Oxfam has had to double its cholera response in Haiti, we warmly welcome the Scottish government's decision to maintain its international development fund.

Although modest in sum, this fund has had life-saving and life-changing impact in Haiti, where it is paying for water and sanitation engineers, and in other countries across the world.

Scottish Funding Council

Following today's draft budget announcement, the Scottish Funding Council will do all it can to provide the sectors with stability and certainty over the allocation of funding to colleges and universities for the academic year beginning in August 2011.

Linda McTavish, convenor of Scotland's Colleges' Principals' Convention

Scotland's Colleges acknowledge the challenges the Scottish government is facing.

It welcomes the opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue about how budget reductions are to be managed in the interests of students and the economy.

Colleges understand that these are tough times for the country. Although it will often be difficult, they are prepared to accept a share of reductions in public spending.

Chas Booth, Association for the Conservation of Energy

We welcome many of the energy saving policies and proposals set out in the RPP, including the commitment to stronger energy standards for new buildings in 2013, continued insulation schemes and a more ambitious standard for existing social rented homes.

However, the level of ambition still falls well short of the contribution housing can and should make to the 42% target by 2020.

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