Comment: Budgets, elections and choices

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George Osborne recently outlined the UK Government’s final budget before the upcoming General Election. Despite some tinkering at the edges his proposals are a firm commitment to the austerity agenda that has damaged the economy over the past few years.

The UK’s economic plan means the most vulnerable will continue to be the hardest hit by George Osborne’s failure to come up with an alternative to austerity.

The Scottish Government’s budget will therefore continue to be under pressure and we have already seen our budget cut by £3.5 billion in real terms since 2009-2010.

The budget also confirms that the UK Government has failed to meet its reduction targets on the deficit and the debt, leading the Institute for Fiscal Studies to predict of “colossal cuts”.

Incredibly, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, said that he would not seek to reverse any of the measures introduced in the budget by the Tory Government.

The Scottish Government has outlined a sustainable alternative to austerity which will allow for a more responsible reduction in the deficit while providing real terms growth in public spending.

This plan would deliver up to £180 billion more that we can invest in protecting public services and even on the Treasury’s own figures; the deficit would still fall every year from 2016-2017 to 2019-2020. I believe that this is a sensible solution that offers hope for the future, as opposed to Westminster’s fixation with slashing budgets.

UK Government austerity has failed Scotland, as we move closer to the election it’s important to remember that a vote for an SNP MP is a vote to ensure that Scotland’s voice is heard at Westminster.

Clarkston Cleanup

I recently joined the many local residents who volunteered for the Clarkston Community Clean-Up. It was great to see the community come together to collect litter, and make a difference to our local environment, particularly in light of the litter concerns raised by shoppers and businesses.

The hard work of everyone resulted in the removal of two truckloads of rubbish from the main shopping area.

Everyone’s efforts meant that Clarkston will be looking its best for spring and this, truly , was a collaborative effort between local volunteers, the Clarkston Business Improvement District and East Renfrewshire Council.

We are fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland, confirmed by a Royal Mail survey that shows East Renfrewshire has three of Scotland’s top ten most desirable places to live.

It’s vital that we continue to respect our environment and surroundings so we can pass on this beautiful area to the next generation.