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PUBLIC EXPENDITURE PLANS WILL MEET SCOTLAND'S NEEDS: FINANCE MINISTER

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Expenditure Plans outlined to the Scottish parliament will deliver the stable and co-operative government the peopl...
Expenditure Plans outlined to the Scottish parliament will deliver the stable and co-operative government the people of Scotland expect and deserve, finance minister Jack McConnell said yesterday.

'We want a country where our children can be healthy and play in a safe environment; we want a country where our young people can achieve their full potential through the vehicle of education; we want a country where our families can raise their children safe in the knowledge that they will be cared for if things go wrong and free to express their creativity and enterprise in the work place; we want a country where our senior citizens live at peace and can see out their days in comfort; and yes we want a country where your post code doesn't affect your life chances.

'In May of this year the Scottish executive published the Partnership for Scotland document - our policy agreements for the first term of this parliament. In September we built on that agreement and in our Programme for Government set out a detailed timetable work plan for delivery of those agreed priorities.

'Today's Scottish Financial statement delivers on those commitments. It is the third the third piece in our strategic plan - the Partnership agreement set out what we had agreed, the Programme set out when those agreements will be delivered and today's statement sets out the details of how we will fund that Programme.

'We don't start with a blank sheet of paper. After two years of tough public finances we are able to spend an extra£1,800m on health in Scotland. And we are able to spend an extra£1,300m on education in Scotland.

'The new arrangements for end-year flexibility, introduced by the chancellor, have enabled us to carry forward significantly more money from last year to this and subsequent years. This is a new arrangement linked closely to with the move to three year settlements under the comprehensive spending review. In the past unspent provision had in many cases to be returned to the treasury. Now the extent to which it can be carried forward from year to year has been extended and we are making full use of this facility.

'Later this month I will be issuing more disaggregated plans for consultation with both the parliament, the finance committee and the public. So while the figures I am announcing today represent a clear view by the executive of its strategic direction I would stress that the figures for future years are not set in tablets of stone.

'I now turn to the details of what I am proposing. Our main aim has been to match expenditure with the priorities set out set out in the Partnership Agreement and the Programme for Government.

'We will:

* fulfil our pledge to increase education spending by a further£80 million on top of the£1.3bn delivered in the comprehensive spending review. Of this£80m,£51m is made available for children and education

-£8,000 on average for each Scottish school

- boosting new investment in technology for schools

And£29m for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning

- to encourage wider participation and increased access to further and higher education

-£6m - funding the doubling of assistance for low income students

-£9m for the pilot schemes to help lower income students stay on at school and become the first in their families to move into further and higher education

-£14m for increased access funds for higher education students

* improve the society in which we live by providing£10.5m to establish a drugs Enforcement Agency aimed at tackling head on the scourge of drugs that stalks so many of our communities

* respond to both local and national issues by making available£6m to fund the Food Standards Agency in Scotland

* in line with the commitment to safeguard and protect the health of Scotland's children I am pleased to confirm£17m of new money for introducing a Scotland wide Meningitis C vaccination programme

* making available£35m of additional funding for the roads programme.

'This is a Scottish financial statement. The first Scottish Financial Statement. It is not a budget in the traditional sense but it will lead to the first annual Scottish Budget Bill. It builds on the current economic success of the UK but is made in Scotland.

'It is tidy and practical but it also reflects the largest ever short term injection of new money into Scottish public services and it therefore invests in the future of every constituency represented here today.'

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