Dave's column printed originally in the Angus County Press, Thursday 20th April.
Scotland now has a new ministerial team – a new Government, under a new First Minister.
I pay tribute to Nicola Sturgeon for her eight years of leadership of this country. To lead is no easy task; but to do so over such a long time, through some of the hardest days in living memory, demands our respect and recognition. I think irrespective of political allegiances Scotland will remember warmly Nicola’s leadership of our nation through the Covid pandemic.
This renewal offers our country the chance to reflect on where we are, and what we need to do next. The SNP has been in Government since 2007. We have, through good government and strong leadership, won the trust of the people of Scotland repeatedly.
I am pleased that my constituents will benefit from some of the most progressive social interventions seen anywhere. A child born under this Scottish Government will benefit from better services, and a fairer system of Government support than many other places including elsewhere in the UK. The child’s parents will receive a baby box, packed with essentials to give every child the best start in life, they will benefit from expanded early-years childcare and, if eligible, receive the game-changing £25-a-week Scottish Child Payment.
When reaching school, the child will have access to greater numbers of teachers and if they wish to go on to college or university they’ll graduate without paying a penny for tuition; saving around £30,000.
When they start paying tax, they’ll pay lower Council Tax in Scotland, they’ll also pay lower income tax if they earn a median wage and in a small business they’ll begin paying business rates at £15,000 – instead of the £12,000 in England.
We all get ill sometimes but here in Scotland our prescription charges and eye tests are funded by the Scottish Government - while in later years, we are supported by Scotland’s free personal care for everyone who needs it, in a system where we have already integrated health and social care.
These policies make a difference to so many people every single day. Scotland’s new Government must now protect and enhance this legacy and all the gains we have enjoyed here in Scotland since 2007. The tripling of the Fuel Insecurity Fund to £30 million demonstrates they are focussed on this priority as does the extra £15 million to help low-income households with childcare.
The people of Scotland will expect nothing less.