Budget for Inverclyde?

January 31st, 2011

Its budget time at Holyrood again and as you would expect in a parliament of minorities, it’s a fraught process.

The various parties are hard at work trying to thrash out a deal that reflects their priorities and politicians are anxious to get the best result for their communities.

In these tough financial times, the choices are even tougher and the stakes even higher.

The whole country wants us to the significant economic challenges ahead and the eyes of the country will be on us over the coming weeks as the budget is debated.

I believe that this budget has to be about growth and jobs and it is the Scottish Government’s responsibility to come up with plan to address these key issues.

That is why I am keen to see money provided for apprenticeships and youth employment schemes, like the Future Jobs Fund. Youth unemployment is not a price worth paying.

And that is why I am pressing for our regeneration budget to be re-instated – that money is vital to attracting business and jobs to Inverclyde.

So far, the Scottish Government has been found wanting on all these issues.

Indeed, the 70 per cent cut to Riverside Inverclyde’s funding, and the reduction in money for James Watt College, actually harms our future economic prospects.

The budget passed the first hurdle this week in the Scottish Parliament but John Swinney has been given a clear message.

If we are going to protect the most vulnerable communities from the reduction in public spending, jobs and youth employment have to be made a priority.

In Inverclyde, we know what happens when politicians look the other way as communities struggle with cuts and unemployment.

Inverclyde still bears the scars of the Thatcher years and we can’t allow that to happen again.

When it comes to the vote, Inverclyde’s priorities will be my priorities.