Last week, Tory and Labour councillors elected to South Lanarkshire Council joined forces to pass a severely damaging budget which reneges on manifesto commitments and places at the centre of their fiscal decision making a contempt for the people of South Lanarkshire.
Tory and Labour councillors voted to increase council tax by 5.5%, squeezing the pockets of the most economically vulnerable during a cost of living crisis which has been worsened by unionist Westminster parties.
Furthermore, Labour councillors reneged on a manifesto commitment to widen access to free school meals, instead increasing the cost of school meals by 10%.
Councillors representing the Scottish National Party presented an alternative budget, placing the people of South Lanarkshire at the heart of their decision making, avoiding being swept into the quagmire of party-political point scoring.
The SNP Councillors proposed a 3.5% increase in council tax, 2% lower than the Tory and Labour pacts. Further, they proposed a 5% increase in grant funding for voluntary organisations, an additional £1 million in funding for the Financial Wellbeing Support Fund and proposed to widen access to free school meals and introduce breakfast clubs to high schools across the region.
All of these proposals were fully costed and were presented as such.
Reacting to this malevolent budget, the SNP MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, Christina McKelvie MSP, said:
“I am deeply disappointed by the actions of the Labour and Tory councillors in South Lanarkshire.
“They have joined forces to present a budget which has the potential to wreak havoc for the residents of South Lanarkshire.
“The SNP are the largest political party, having the most representatives elected to South Lanarkshire Council. The unionist parties have clearly teamed up to prevent the SNP from passing a reasonable, thorough, affordable budget which would avoid the reckless impacts on residents in South Lanarkshire that will now occur.
“They have teamed up due to their dislike of the SNP. As a result, they have passed a budget which will squeeze the pockets of many households that are already struggling as a result of the Tory-accelerated cost of living crisis. Their disregard for the people of South Lanarkshire is stark, and I know for a fact that the SNP will continue to fight for a fairer deal for South Lanarkshire residents.”