The SNP Government is content for the next generation to pay the price of austerity, Kezia Dugdale said today.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, the Scottish Labour Leader highlighted the £774 million cut to local government imposed by the SNP Government’s budget yesterday. Kezia Dugdale said these cuts would impact Scotland’s schools.

The organisation representing councils in Scotland, Cosla, estimate that the SNP Government’s budget will result in 15,000 council job losses.

Using the new powers coming to Holyrood, Scottish Labour would introduce a Fair Start Fund. This would allocate £1,000 for each primary school pupil from a deprived background. Decisions about how this money should be spent would be for head teachers to take. The money to pay for this would be raised by increasing the top rate of tax to 50p for those earning more than £150,000 a year.

Kezia Dugdale said:

“The budget was a chance to take a different path to the failed agenda of the Tories, but instead the SNP decided to just manage austerity.

John Swinney’s budget pulled the rug out from under the councils that build our schools and are vital to the education of our children. The reality is that Nicola Sturgeon can’t guarantee the SNP Government’s budget won’t result in job losses for our specialist teachers, class room assistants, janitors and office staff.

With the new powers heading our way and a long-term budget we can do things differently. Under Scottish Labour’s plan head teachers would get £1,000 for every pupil from a deprived background. We would hand real power to head teachers to decide how to improve the life chances of the children in their school. It’s a plan that sends funds to where they are needed most.

Nicola Sturgeon talks a good game on fairness, but refuses to take the bold action needed to make it a reality.

Under the SNP Government the number of qualified teachers in our nurseries has fallen, the gap between the richest and the rest remains as wide as ever and the number of teachers in our schools has fallen by 4,300. Yet the SNP’s response to all of that is to cut, cut and cut again. It looks like the SNP Government is content for the next generation to pay the price of austerity.”