Schools in Dumfries and Galloway are set for £3.1million bonanza as a result of the new Scottish budget.
The money is part of an attainment fund from the SNP which allocates £1200 for every child eligible for free school meals.
It is to go direct to schools and was announced by the new Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP when he unveiled his first budget on Thursday.
The money was welcomed by Joan McAlpine MSP for South Scotland who campaigned for the attainment fund to be distributed on the basis of school meal entitlement.
The £120million for school attainment was part of a budget which included an additional £304million for the NHS and £240million additional spend for councils.
Mr Mackay also extended the small business bonus scheme to take more small businesses out of rates altogether.
Ms McAlpine said:
“This is a great Christmas bonanza, the school attainment fund is aimed at helping the most needy pupils. I campaigned for it to be on the basis of free school meals because that really helps rural areas like Dumfries and Galloway where child poverty is more dispersed. The old system based on “Areas of Multiple Deprivation” favoured concentrated pockets in the cities.
“The £120million will come directly from the SNP Scottish Government, not councils as was previously proposed. That means councils can use the increased council tax on higher rated homes to spend on local priorities.”
The attainment money allocates £1200 for 2599 pupils entitled to free school meals in Dumfries and Galloway. It will go to schools where headteachers will determine how it will be spent to close the gap in performance between pupils from different backgrounds.
Ms McAlpine added:
“Derek Mackay’s budget was set against swinging cuts to Scotland’s budget from the Tories in London. Independent analysis by the Fraser of Allander institute has shown that Westminster has cut Scotland’s budget by almost £3billion between 2010 and 2020. Despite this the SNP has delivered free university tuition, kept free bus passes, abolished prescription charges and given the NHS above inflation rises.
“Now on top of these achievements Derek Mackay’s first budget is delivering for schools right across the country. It is absolutely right that spending in schools is determined by teachers, not local authority education departments.
“Now is the time for the Labour run Dumfries and Galloway Council to step up to the plate and start delivering for local people. A recent report by Audit Scotland showed that the pressure on local authority budgets matched exactly the cut to Scotland’s budget from London. That is the framework within which the SNP Government has to operate and Labour’s solution in Dumfries and Galloway and right across Scotland is to hammer lower paid people with huge tax increases. That was rejected by voters at the Scottish Parliament election this year. Derek has prioritised health and education spending which is what people voted for in May when they re-elected the SNP by a huge margin”
Attached – Picture of Joan McAlpine MSP in full Christmas swing