In December my colleague Johann Lamont wrote here on the Scottish Budget. At that time Johann called for a Budget that promoted a fairer Scotland. Johann drew particular attention to the on-going funding crisis in local government. Unfortunately, the Scottish Government did not listen to Johann or the many other voices calling for an end to the underfunding of local government.

Local Government is central to protecting communities across Scotland. As co-operators we have a special concern for community. The Scottish Government’s Budget is proposing further cuts of £319 million to Scotland’s councils. This is unacceptable and will lead to jobs and services going across Scotland.

The Scottish Government has become a conveyor-belt for austerity to Scotland’s councils. We need to recognise the negative impact that austerity is having on all of our communities.

I am proud that our party has received the Fair Tax Mark and that it supports this across the economy. This means that companies have to prove that they have paid tax at the correct rate, at the correct time and in the correct jurisdiction. I want the Scottish Government to support the Fair Tax Mark in procurement and to help Scotland’s councils support the Fair Tax Mark. After all, you cannot say that you oppose austerity and still tolerate companies which do not pay their way.

When the Budget is debated later today in the Scottish Parliament I will be arguing for a better deal for Scotland and especially Scotland’s councils. It is astonishing that the Scottish Budget proposes more cuts for councils but also hands a tax cut to high earners.

As a Scottish Co-operative Party MSP I will be looking for a Budget which is bold and which transforms the way in which out economy is run. I am looking for a Budget which protects local jobs and services.