The Scottish Greens have warned they cannot back the Government’s budget unless more is done to tackle poverty.
Co-leader Patrick Harvie has said he hopes Finance Secretary Kate Forbes would take more direct action against poverty.
Mr Harvie said his party is willing to work constructively with government to achieve that change and has suggested various means of improving the budget including upping the public sector pay settlement.
The Glasgow MSP pointed to some of the significant concessions his party has won from Government in recent budget negotiations as evidence it could deliver a good deal.
These included local government funding, a fairer income tax system, finance for new marine protections, support for local rail projects, an increase in energy efficiency expenditure, more funding for teachers’ pay, and free bus travel for young people.
Mr Harvie said: “The Scottish Green approach to budgets has always focused on putting forward positive, workable proposals.
“That constructive approach has delivered major success in recent years including the introduction of Scotland’s fairer income tax system, a system that we alone proposed at the last election.
“Approaching negotiations in a collaborative spirit has allowed us to deliver funding for marine protections and local rail projects, secured funding for a teachers’ pay rise, mitigated against SNP council cuts, and secured free bus travel for under-19s – a transformational policy that will come into effect later this year.
“This year we have been clear that we expect government to do much more to support household incomes, especially targeting those who are most in need. Many of those hardest hit by the pandemic were already struggling to get by before it, and require urgent support.
“If the Scottish Government believes it can afford a council tax freeze – a policy that will give the biggest savings to the wealthiest – it must be willing to do more to support people living in poverty.
“We’ve proposed various ways the Government might get support to people including via social security payments, by cutting energy bills, providing free school meals to all primary school children and ensuring a fair public sector pay settlement is reached.
“We remain willing to work constructively to deliver vital changes to the budget but can only vote for it if the Government makes significant movement, ensuring all those living in poverty get the essential support they need.”