Finance and healthcare dominate Cabinet visit

When the Scottish Cabinet visited Aberdeen earlier this week, public finances and healthcare were popular topics – especially during a public question and answer session at the Music Hall on Monday.

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance John Swinney took a question from a member of the audience who asked why certain politicians in the North-east bemoan that the area is underfunded by the Scottish Government and also asked what is being done to counter this trend.

Mr Swinney set out how this SNP government is reversing the historic under-funding of the North-east that was inherited from previous administrations. He went on to explain that local authorities receive funding based on need and how a variety of indicators are used to determine how much funding is awarded year on year.

And when a local authority’s funding falls below 85% of the national average, Mr Swinney steps in to provide additional support which is exactly what happened last year when Aberdeen City Council received an extra £7 million and what will happen this year with an extra £11.3 million.

What is clear is that the SNP are working hard to ensure that every area of Scotland, including the North-east, receives a fair deal without penalising any particular authority.

NHS Grampian has also benefited from extra funding and Cabinet Secretary for Health Shona Robison has recently welcomed the progress being made at the health board.

The funding allocation for all health boards across Scotland has increased by £282 million which brings every board within 1% parity of the Scottish Government’s NRAC funding formula early.

This means that NHS Grampian’s general allocation has increased to £827.3 million and the health board will receive a further £2.7 million to tackle delayed discharge.

The increase for NHS Grampian was first revealed in January when Health Secretary Shona Robison announced £15.2 million additional funding for NHS Grampian. The figures have now been confirmed after the Scottish budget was passed in Parliament last week.

I am delighted that NHS Grampian’s frontline budget has increased by more than £49 million. This comes as Scotland’s total health spending reaches more than £12 billion for the first time ever.

This SNP government is clear that all patients in Scotland should be treated as quickly and as effectively as possible, with the right care, in the right place, at the right time. This massive cash injection will allow the staff at NHS Grampian to continue the excellent job they do in caring for patients in the North-east.

Tory, Labour and Lib Dem MSPs voted against the budget and therefore against these massive increases. The Scottish Government has provided significant extra funds, as the boards share of national NHS funding has increased from 9.1 per cent to 9.6 per cent under the SNP Government, and will invest another £17 million next year.

It was a privilege to launch new Oldmeldrum start-up Subsea Tooling Services at the Subsea Expo 2015 that was recently held at the AECC.

The company produces high quality subsea equipment, predominately for the oil industry and all the company’s dredgers and associated parts are bought and made in Scotland.

I am pleased that a company in my constituency is showing such confidence in the industry at this challenging time.

Oil prices have been on a downturn which means that wages and conditions can be cut but the oil industry can adapt to this harsh environment by being clever.

It was a good week for Inverurie’s retailers who won a series of awards at the Scottish Independent Retail Awards.

Davidson’s Butcher was awarded Butcher Shop of the Year for the North East region and Mitchell’s Dairy received the Convenience Store of the Year for the North West region which is fantastic recognition for all the hard work these businesses do to promote and celebrate local food and drink producers.

The town’s Vanity was also successful and won the Fashion/Accessories Retailer of the Year award for the North East.

Both owners and staff should be very proud of their achievements and I offer them my sincere congratulations.