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Summary

  1. The finance committee takes evidence on the draft budget
  2. A statement on mental health service reform is delivered
  3. Followed by a statement on early learning and childcare expansion
  4. MSPs also debate the contribution of EU citizens to Scotland, the Iolaire disaster and Scottish Water discounts

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Louise Wilson

All times stated are UK

  1. That's all from Holyrood Live

    That's all from Holyrood Live on Wednesday 19 December 2018.

    Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey told MSPs £4m would will be invested in CAMHS staffing to support children and young people.

    The funding announcement coincided with the publication of a review into how to improve Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) that recommends cutting the target waiting time for specialist treatment by a third, to 12 weeks.

    Child with doctor

    When questioned in Holyrood by Tory MSPs Annie Wells and Miles Briggs about whether the Scottish Government would adopt the recommended target for mental health waiting times of 12 weeks rather than 18, Ms Haughey did not commit and instead referenced the new funding.

    NHS figures released earlier this month revealed 221 young Scots have been waiting more than a year for specialist help with mental health problems, while there were 197 cases where children with such conditions were treated on adult wards in 2017-18.

  2. No decision has yet been taken insists cabinet secretary

    Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham

    Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham insists the this debate is on a consultation, about which no decision has yet been made.

    The consultation was about whether there was a way to better support those who are most vulnerable, she tells the chamber.

    Being a single person household is not related to affordability, she adds.

    Further consultation with the effected demographics and interested groups will be taken after a decision has been made, Ms Cunningham concludes.

  3. Background: Age Scotland calls for government to avoid reduction to single occupancy discount

    Older person on phone with credit card

    Age Scotland, in a briefing to MSPs, has set out three recommendations:

    • Urge the Scottish government to revise proposals to reduce the discount to single occupancy homes due to unintended consequences on the poorest older people
    • Raise awareness of benefits available to older people to maximise their income
    • Continue universal entitlements for older people to assist with their fuel bills, such as winter fuel payment
  4. Age Scotand predict a rise in older people living alone of 50% says Tory MSP

    Tory MSP Finlay Carson
    Image caption: Tory MSP Finlay Carson

    Tory MSP Finlay Carson says he is acutely aware of his many constituents living alone, some through choice, some not.

    Mr Carson tells the chamber Age Scotland predict a rise in older people living alone of 50% and they are the people going to be hit by this proposal.

    It is beyond belief that single occupancy homes use as much water as multiple occupancy homes, he says.

    He agrees with the deputy presiding officer that he read the motion incorrectly, as he thought it was about loneliness.

  5. Background from the Herald: Water bills set to rise as ministers overhaul discounts

    Water going down a plug

    According to the Herald:

    "People living alone are facing higher water bills under new Scottish Government plans.

    "Ministers have announced they want to cut the discount on water bills for single occupiers from 25 to 10 per cent, and end the exemption for vacant homes altogether.

    "The change would cost most single occupiers around £70 more per year from 2021.

    "However there would be more generous discounts for the poorest households."

    Read the full story here.

  6. Labour MSP lambastes Scottish government for water charge proposals

    Labour MSP Jackie Baillie
    Image caption: Labour MSP Jackie Baillie

    Labour MSP Jackie Baillie says almost 950,000 people receive a discount for their water, usually of 25%.

    A consultation was launched by the Scottish government in the summer about changing this discount, she tells the chamber.

    The government wants to increase the amount of discount for people receiving council tax reduction, which I welcome, Ms Baillie says.

    But they want to pay for it by removing the discount for those who live alone but do not receive a council tax reduction she explains.

    The Labour MSP insists this will end up penalising vulnerable people, particularly older people.

    She goes on to express concern about possibly removing the single person discount for council tax.

    Ms Bailile reveals the results of the Scottish government consultation on this issue will be published on Friday.

  7. Debate: Scottish Water single occupancy discount

    Labour MSP Jackie Baillie is leading a member's debate on plans to change the single occupancy discount from Scottish Water.

    Her motion highlights the proposal to have the discount only apply to those who receive council tax reduction, warns this will affect almost 950,000 people and urges the Scottish government to prevent this.

    Jackie Baillie's motion
    Image caption: Here is the motion
  8. Decision time......

    MSPs reject the Tory amendment and back the Labour amendment.

    The amended motion is backed by MSPs.

  9. As we approach decision time here's a reminder of the motion and amendments....

    GB cut out from EU flag
    Motion and amendemnts
  10. 'We should be welcoming them into this country, rather than repelling them'

    Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie
    Image caption: Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie

    Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie says the immigration white paper published today will be "damaging" to our country.

    He highlights some criticism of its contents from the business community.

    Regarding settled status, Mr Rennie highlights to even qualify a person must have lived in the UK for five years.

    And then having contributed to the UK economy for that long, you are expect to pay a fee to get settled status he says.

    "The simplest way to abolish this charge would be to abolish Brexit."

    Many workers come from the EU and "we should be welcoming them into this country, rather than repelling them", the Lib Dem MSP concludes.

  11. Background: Concerns EU staff will leave Scottish universities

    Jamie McIvor

    BBC Scotland education correspondent

    Lecture

    Academics and researchers from the EU may be leaving their jobs because of Brexit, according to the Scottish Funding Council (SFC).

    The body, which helps fund colleges and universities, says there is "anecdotal evidence" EU staff are finding or considering new roles.

    More than a fifth of teaching and research staff are EU nationals.

    The SFC also said any fall in the number of EU students could lead to changes for the courses on offer.

    Read more here.

  12. 'All of this is endangered by the crude racism of the UK government'

    Green MSP Ross Greer
    Image caption: Green MSP Ross Greer

    Green MSP Ross Greer pays respect to the contribution EU citizens make and indeed all people who come to make their home in Scotland and make it a better place.

    Mr Greer stresses the benefits to education freedom of movement in the EU has brought to our education sector, citing the success of Erasmus Plus.

    Holyrood unanimously backed the continuation of the Erasmus+ exchange programme beyond 2020.

    Mr Greer goes on to say: "We need a system that is welcoming and attractive, one that attracts and retains workers.

    "One which allows students to stay here after their studies."

    All across our society we see the contributions EU citizens have made, he adds.

    "All of this is endangered by the crude racism of the UK government."

  13. Background: Concern over EU 'talent loss' post-Brexit

    Glenn Campbell

    BBC Scotland Political Correspondent

    Street in Glasgoq

    The potential loss of EU talent has emerged as a key concern of Scotland's public services, according to BBC research.

    Responses from Freedom of Information requests to 80 public bodies highlighted a range of issues, including that of EU migration.

    The UK is due to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019.

    However, the BBC investigation discovered starkly different degrees of preparation among Scotland's 32 local authorities and other public bodies.

    The country has about 235,000 EU nationals with an estimated 26,000 working in health, social care and public administration.

    Read more.

  14. Migration policy must recognise the different needs around the UK says Labour MSP

    Ms Baker

    Ms Baker highlights the challenges around completing applications for settled status for people who struggle with English, who do not have access to the internet or cannot meet the fee.

    Regarding the Migration Advisory Committee, she says MSPs were "astonished" by its view of the Scottish economy.

    Unless we see a migration policy which recognises the needs of different parts of the UK, there will be greater calls for a different policy she warns.

    We must be clear EU citizens are welcome to settle here, not just for their economic contribution, but to become a part of our community as well she concludes.

  15. Background: Call to extend EU settlement scheme pilot to include family members

    Border checks

    A pilot of the scheme to allow EU nationals to remain in the UK after Brexit should be extended to family members, the Scottish and Welsh health secretaries have said.

    The EU Settlement Scheme pilot is open to health and social care workers and university staff.

    It began in November and offers the chance to apply for settled status before the UK leaves the EU in March.

    But family members will have to wait to a later date to confirm their status.

    Read more here.