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Summary

  1. The petitions committee hears from school children who want to see first aid training in primary school
  2. Extensive coverage of FMQs from noon
  3. An SNP MSP leads a debate on the settle status scheme
  4. MSPs debate local government finance
  5. Then the Scottish government leads a debate marking International Women's Day

Live Reporting

By Louise Wilson and Craig Hutchison

All times stated are UK

  1. 'I think it's great the status quo is being challenged'

    Tory MSP Annie Wells
    Image caption: Tory MSP Annie Wells

    Tory MSP Annie Wells says she wants this year to be a year of real change.

    Society and government both have a big role to play, argues Ms Wells.

    There's still a long way to go and gender balance is essential, she says.

    The Tory MSP adds: "I think it's great the status quo is being challenged."

  2. Post update

    Virgina Woolf
    Quote Message: “For most of history, anonymous was a woman.” from Virginia Woolf Author
    Virginia WoolfAuthor
  3. Scottish social security system must take gender into account

    The cabinet secretary says the advisory group published 11 ambitious recommendations to drive systemic change, ranging from justice to childcare issues.

    It will be my portfolios responsibility to ensure the recommendations are given the attention they deserve, she confirms.

    Young family
    Image caption: Some families say they have struggled because of UK government welfare changes

    Ms Somerville criticises the UK government's social security reform for not taking gender into account, adding it has exacerbated existing inequalities.

    We must ensure the Scottish social security system does take gender into account, she states.

    On domestic abuse, the minister says the government will challenge it, eliminate it, and support survivors.

  4. Background: #BalanceForBetter

    Woman

    The theme is this year's International Women's Day is #BalanceForBetter...

    "The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage ...

    "Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive."

  5. Women's health inequalities raised again today

    Ms Somerville says it would be pessimistic and disrespectful not to recognise the tremendous steps made by thousands of women in Scotland.

    The minister praises the work of the women's sector in Scotland including Engender, Rape Crisis Scotland Scottish Women's Aid, Close the Gap, the Scottish Women's Convention and Equate Scotland provide us with a gendered analysis of women's experience and challenge us to go further.

    Labour's Elaine Smith asks the minister about women's health inequalities
    Image caption: Labour's Elaine Smith asks the minister about women's health inequalities

    Ms Somerville National Advisory Council for Women and Girls to act as a catalyst for change with a vision of Scotland as a world leader where all women and girls can reach their potential.

    Labour MSP Elaine Smith says the advisory group are taking evidence on women's health inequalities.

    The minister says Ms Smith is quite right to raise this important issue.

  6. 'This is not an issue passed its sell-by date'

    Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville
    Image caption: Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville

    Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville says International Women's Day is a day to celebrate women's social, economy and culture contribution to society.

    A day to reaffirm our commitment to women's rights and a day to galvanise our efforts to end violence against women and girls, she says.

    Women's contribution is "immense" but not reflected in their status in society, Ms Somerville states.

    This is not an issue passed its sell-by date as we inherit centuries of sexism she tells the chamber.

  7. Debate: International Women's Day

    Women marching in Glasgow during the long-running dispute over equal pay
    Image caption: Women marching in Glasgow during the long-running dispute over equal pay

    The Scottish government is leading a debate to mark International Women's Day, which takes place tomorrow.

  8. 'The Greens have sold out local government'

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

    Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie says the budgets for councils were set to be cut by £230m which the Greens said is fixed by £90m extra.

    Handing councils a bunch of taxes they don't want and won't raise the money they need is certainty not reform, he adds.

    "The Greens have sold out local government because they are too afraid to stand up their allies in the SNP."

    Mr Wightman says the council tax requires primary legislation to get rid of it and therefore it is not an option to abolish it in the budget.

    Mr Rennie retorts that the Greens sold out for a "ropy promise" of more talks.

    We want councils to have the freedom to raise the majority of the cash themselves and the Lib Dems will not take part in the talks until the government sets out what it wants, he states.

  9. 'We will be supporting the motion today as we made a deal to do so'

    Green MSP Andy Wightman says the Greens made it clear no negotiations could take place around the budget without substantial changes to local tax through reform.

    Mr Wightman tells the chamber he will bring a bill to Holyrood that will incorporate the European charter for local government.

    "We will be supporting the motion today as we made a deal to do so."

    Green MSP Andy Wightman
    Image caption: Green MSP Andy Wightman

    Not to do so would deny councils vital cash he argues.

    Mr Wightman says local democracy has been eroded over the years, with a loss of accountability.

    He says it is an "affront" to local democracy that council tax remains the most regressive in the UK, based on rates from 25 years ago.

    I do not feel comfortable sitting in this parliament and voting on how much money local government should receive, but that is where we are, he tells the chamber.

  10. Labour MSP says he was only given 10 minutes for budget negotiations

    Mr Kelly

    On a number of key policy areas for the Scottish government, cuts to local councils are going to undermine efforts Mr Kelly warns.

    The reality of the budget negotiations efforts this year was the government focused on the Scottish Greens, he claims.

    He says he met with the finance secretary to outline options "but the cabinet secretary only afforded me 10 minutes".

    Negotiations and discussions need to start earlier in the future and the government must look to all opposition parties the Labour MSP insists.

  11. Background: Councils face further funding pressure, says watchdog

    Overflowing bin

    Scotland's 32 councils are facing difficult times ahead with no sign of financial pressures easing, according to the public spending watchdog last November.

    The Accounts Commission said funding from the Scottish government fell by 2.3% in real terms in 2017-2018.

    Its annual overview of councils across Scotland highlighted the increasing role of council tax funding.

    Responding, authorities' umbrella body Cosla said "councils are at a cliff edge" and need more financial powers.

    Read more here.

  12. Funding allocated by government means councils have to implement cuts

    Labour MSP James Kelly
    Image caption: Labour MSP James Kelly

    Labour MSP James Kelly says the minister tried to put a good gloss on the settlement for local government.

    However the reality is that local councils are facing increased responsibilities and what that means is the councils' core budgets are reduced by £230m, says Mr Kelly.

    The Labour MSP argues the funding being allocated by the Scottish government means councils have to implement cuts, undermining Scottish government policy aims.

    Mr Kelly points to the cut of 3% to the education budget in Dundee, despite the Scottish government making a great play of citing education as its priority.

  13. Council cuts 'being forced upon them by this Scottish government'

    Mr Fraser standing in chamber

    Mr Fraser says the core grant is down, leading to councils having to make cuts.

    "These are choices not being made lightly by local councils, but choices which are being forced upon them by this Scottish government."

    The Tory MSP says there at least 11 councils in Scotland increasing council tax by the maximum possible rise.

    Ms Forbes asks why Tory councillors have supported increasing the tax and Mr Fraser hits back that SNP-run Renfrewshire Council has done so too.

    Economic growth in Scotland, and as a result income tax revenues, is expected to lag behind the rest of the UK in the coming years, Mr Fraser says.

  14. Background: What did the budget mean for councils?

    Mackay and Sturgeon

    The Scottish government's budget plans were passed by parliament two weeks ago.

    Mr Mackay said Scotland's 32 local councils will receive a real terms increase in both revenue and capital funding, taking the local government budget to £11.1bn.

    Local authorities will also be allowed to increase council tax levels by up to 4.79%.

    As part of the government's deal with the Greens, the following was agreed:

    • Legislation to let councils set a local "tourism tax"
    • Powers for councils to set a levy on workplace car parking spaces
    • Talks on replacing the council tax, with legislation to be drawn up if not actually passed this term