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  1. MSPs pass the Scottish government's budget for 2015-16

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Rachael Connors

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodnight

    That ends BBC Scotland's Democracy Live coverage of the Scottish parliament on Wednesday 4 February 2015.

    Holyrood at night

    We'll be back tomorrow with comprehensive coverage of Holyrood beginning with the Rural Affairs Committee which will take evidence from supermarkets on the milk crisis from 9.30am.

  2. Debate ends

    Employment Minister Annabel Ewing says the Labour party does not seek to get powers that would allow the Scottish government to deal with these scams, she says Mr Findlay would rather a Tory government at Westminster presided over workers rights

    Ms Ewing says the government is setting up the Fair Work Convention, where employers and unions will work together on progressive work force policies and the promotion of the living wage.

    She highlights the first minister's Scottish Business Pledge which she hopes will lead to companies committing to the living wage, ending zero hours contracts and stopping using umbrella companies.

  3. Procurement and contract tendering

    Mr Findlay intervenes and disputes that the Scottish government can do nothing to address umbrella scams, it can change procurement and contract tendering to prevent umbrella scams happening.

  4. Minister's response

    Employment Minister Annabel Ewing says "we are taking action on workforce matters".

    Annabel Ewing

    In terms of fair work, we are absolutely committed to pursuing the fair work agenda and will see the fair work convention established, she adds.

  5. Employment law

    SNP MSP Gordon Macdonald says over six years ago HMRC investigated umbrella companies -- invalid dispensations, possible illegal deductions, unlawful management processes.

    SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald
    Image caption: SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald

    He says a problem was identified in 2008 and the then Labour UK government failed to act.

    The difficulty is employment law is reserved to Westminster, he says, and a proposal to devolve it was blocked by the Labour party.

  6. 'Name and shame'

    Mr Johnstone says the concept of self employment is not the problem.

    It is vital each and everyone of us do all we can to "name and shame" companies involved in umbrella company scams, he says.

    He concludes: "It is only fair a skilled man gets a fair days pay for fair day's work."

  7. 'Inappropriate'

    Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone says the schemes described in this debate have had their counterparts in the past which have required legislation to address.

    The fact is however, companies in difficult positions are driven to do things that are inappropriate due to the structure that exists, says Mr Johnstone.

    Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone
    Image caption: Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone

    Mr Findlay intervenes and says not make excuses for these companies, their behaviour is outrageous.

    Mr Johnstone agrees.

  8. 'Dark and murky'

    Labour MSP Cara Hilton says the umbrella company con trick is a "dark and murky" pursuit.

    An estimated 200,000 workers are being paid by umbrella companies across the UK, says Ms Hilton, meaning they have to pay their employers' NI contributions and the cost of processing their pay, as well as damaging their pensions.

    Cara Hilton

    This hits workers hard in their pockets, she says.

  9. Post update

  10. Intentional dissembling

    SNP MSP Christina McKelvie says employment agencies using umbrella companies are using intentional dissembling.

    Christina McKelvie
  11. Tax losses

    Mr Findlay says workers from Denny power station, workers on university buildings in Edinburgh, and he says he suspects workers on the new Forth crossing, will be employed via this scam.

    It is not just the worker who loses out, he says, the government loses out on taxes as well.

    He says hourly rates agreed between agencies and workers should be the rate they are paid and holiday and benefits pay should not come from this hourly rate.

    He says: "All forms of bogus self employment should be abolished" and he says this can be addressed by government but it requires political will.

  12. Umbrella company

    Mr Findlay says the "Umbrella Company Contract Scam" came about after the UK government banned employment agencies from classifying construction workers falsely as self-employed.


    He says the employers employed a "21st century great money trick" using a very complex pay system to pass on employers National Insurance payments and the cost of processing pay to the construction worker.

    The companies use an "umbrella or composite company" between themselves and their staff, paying them a lot less than the rate that was agreed when they took the job on.

  13. Procurement

    In his motion Mr Findlay calls on the UK and Scottish governments to use their procurement strategies and their powers and influence to end bogus self-employment and to ensure that this scandal is not allowed to continue.

  14. 'Ripped off'

    Mr Findlay says we see skilled tradesmen working on some of the biggest construction projects in Scotland are "systematically ripped off time and again" by big companies.

    Neil Findlay Labour MSP
  15. The Umbrella Company Contract Scam debate

    Labour MSP Neil Findlay is leading a debate entitled 'The Umbrella Company Contract Scam'.

    In his motion Mr Findlay welcomed the demonstration organised by the unions UCATT and Unite which was held at the UK Parliament on 26 October 2014, to highlight what it considers the scandal of so-called umbrella company contracts.

    Mr Findlay says he condemns the increasing number of employment agencies that are involved in this legal tax scam and says that such contracts allow the cost of processing wages, employers' national insurance and holiday pay to be passed on to workers, and impacts on people working in Scotland.

    He says these contracts have allowed employers to pay workers less than the minimum wage in some cases and says it has had a negative effect on workers' morale and productivity, as well as a loss of tax revenues to the Treasury.

  16. Decision time

    MSPs pass the Scottish government's budget at decision time.

    64 MSPs back the budget, 53 vote against and there are three abstentions.

  17. Budget debate ends

    Mr Swinney says labour will be voting against £20m to tackle educational inequality and money allocated to the £526m for the college budget

    Holyrood budget

    Mr Swinney says setting budgets is "a difficult and challenging task for any government".

    He says the budget is strong.

  18. Teacher numbers

    The finance secretary says he takes very seriously dialogue with local government and no one has done more than he on that front.

    Mr Swinney says the money has gone into a settlement but teacher numbers are going down not up, that is why the government is entitled to call time on those arrangements.

    However he says he painfully regrets the fact that he has not reached agreement with Cosla on teacher numbers.

  19. NHS

    Mr Swinney says health funding has been central to this debate and the government originally would have increased funding for the NHS by £222m for 2015-16.

    However as a consequence of his decisions on the Autumn Statement and his budget there is now £383m more for NHS funding, a very substantial increase in the resources available to the health service

  20. Government closing

    Finance Secretary John Swinney says when he ran assessment of existing tax provisions as amended in Autumn statement the revenue sum was £461m.

    Revenue neutrality should then have been defined as £461m, he says, but he could not get agreement with UK government who said it was £ 524m.

    Finance Secretary John Swinney
    Image caption: Finance Secretary John Swinney

    After two years of procrastination, he says, we decided to split the difference-and settle on £494m.

    He tells Conservative MSP Gavin Brown, "that is my explanation".

  21. 'Resilience fund'

    Mr Macdonald says the ongoing oil price crisis is the biggest issue facing the private sector.

    The Labour MSP supports the call for a change in the fiscal framework for the oil and gas industry, to be made at Westminster.

    He says the Scottish government can do more and should do more.

    It should take up Labour's proposal for a resilience fund which would give local councils the flexibility to react to fiscal shocks, he says.

  22. Urgent action required

    Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald says as people live longer demand on the NHS is only going to get greater.

    He says the government needs to do more.

    Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald
    Image caption: Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald

    On teacher numbers, Mr Macdonald says there are many council across Scotland unable to recruit staff and need support "not penalties".

    He says urgent action is requried on oil and gas because of threats to job as a result of the low price of oil.

  23. 'Huge sums'

    Mr Fraser says Scotland's budget from Westminster is the "highest budget in cash terms" and the second highest in real terms, with every year apart from the 2009 -10 budget second highest 9 10 higher, always lower.

    For all the complaints about austerity the Scottish government has in historic terms had huge sums to deal with.

  24. LBTT concerns

    Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser says the proposals on rates on sporting interest will have a negative impact on rural economy.

    The rates on LBTT is where we have the greatest concerns, he says.

    Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser

    "We believe there will be a negative impact on people who do not recognise themselves as wealthy."

    He says Mr Swinney's plans got "a pasting" on BBC Scotland's Morning Call programme apart from a man called Dave who he said sounded like the Finance Secretary's own constituency assistant.

  25. Budgets to be cut

    Mr Crawford says he respects Labour's right to put forward requests for additional expenditure, even the £1.8bn for local government requested by Labour's Jackie Baillie.

    Ms Baillie intervenes saying the £1.8bn is the amount taken away from councils.

    Bruce Crawford

    Labour must identify which budgets will be cut by the equivalent amounts, retorts Mr Crawford, saying they have failed to do so.

    He accuses Labour of showing "absolutely no responsibility here today".

  26. Budget reaction


    Transform Scotland tweets: @POPScotland We have our doubts that £4m from @JohnSwinney in #ScotBudget means cycle infra spend increases in 2015/16. More info needed.

    Vonnie Sandlan NUS tweets: Lack of funding for college students risks another crisis #StopStudentPoverty #ScotBudget

  27. Difficult task

    SNP MSP Bruce Crawford says "setting a budget in the teeth of a reduction" of about 10% spending power available to you since 2010 is a substantially difficult task.

  28. 'Absolutely appalled'

    Labour MSP Alex Rowley says he will not be able to support the budget as it "fails on a number of fronts".

    Alex Rowley
    Image caption: Labour MSP Alex Rowley

    He says the NHS is "bouncing from crisis to crisis" and the economic strategy is not working as Mr Swinney purports.

    Mr Rowley says fairness is not the theme of this budget when it comes to colleges.

    He says he is "absolutely appalled" at Mr Swinney's attack on local government as they are under pressure.

  29. NHS priorities

    SNP MSP Bob Doris says the NHS in Scotland has had a real terms increase of about 4.6% and that should be contrasted with a "real terms slash" from the UK government of about 10%.

    That shows Scottish government priorities, he says.

    Support for this budget, Mr Doris says, will result in achieving health and social care integration.

  30. Scottish Greens

    Green MSP Patrick Harvie says we see a crisis in the energy sector that could be an opportuntiy.

    Mr Harvie says instead, we see the SNP government calling on tax breaks to fund more fossil fuel exploration, digging us deeper into climate change trouble.

    Green MSP Patrick Harvie
    Image caption: Green MSP Patrick Harvie

    He says the government should be looking to a new energy future focussing on renewables and public and community ownership.

  31. 'Noose of austerity'

    SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson says after five years of power there are no signs the UK government will loosen the noose of austerity from the neck of the UK economy.

    Kenneth Gibson

    Mr Gibson says Greece shows us people will eventually have their say in budgetary decisions.

  32. Frontline fund

    On a frontline fund for NHS, Mr Chisholm recounts that he pointed out earlier that this is "merely implementing government policy".

    He brings up the A&E crisis and also delayed discharge. He says in this area he thinks funds should be shared out between health boards beginning with those with the greatest need.

  33. LBTT

    Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm says he shares Gavin Brown's concerns over the understanding of LBTT and transparency is needed.

    Malcolm Chisholm

    He agrees there is confusion over revenue neutrality and after many definitions "we are still utterly baffled".


    • £390 million to deliver 6000 affordable homes
    • More than £300 million over two years to extend annual funded childcare to 600 hours for 3 and 4 year olds and vulnerable 2 year olds.
    • £81 million to mitigate against Wesminster's welfare reform including the 'Bedroom Tax'
    • Increase the health budget to over £12 billion with a funding increase of £383 million
    • Secure £4.5 billion of infrastructure investment in 2015-16
    • £330 million of further capital investment in schools
  35. Budget tests

    Mr Rennie says the Liberal Democrats don't oppose budgets because they oppose SNP policy or for the sake of it.

    "We support budgets on merit", he says.

    He says his party had set some tests for the budget this year including on mental health spending, childcare, which needs to match the level of support being given in England, the Student loan repayment threshold and college spending.

    Mr Rennie says the SNP government has not passed in these areas and his party cannot support the budget.

  36. 'Below acceptable'

    The Lib Dem leader says to attack local government for this government's failure to meet its teacher numbers targets is "below acceptable".

  37. A&E

    The NHS is in crisis says Mr Rennie, citing the A&E waiting time statistics which have "plunged" below England's, says Mr Rennie.

  38. Lib Dems

    Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie says the context of this budget is one of an economy in recovery.

    Employment is up, GDP is up and unemployment is down he says.

    Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie

    That is due to a plan the SNP were against, he says.

  39. A&E

    SNP MSP Linda Fabiani says she was stunned to see Jim Murphy at Monklands A&E yesterday and she notes she campaigned against Labour proposals to shut A&Es.

    She says the Labour party has "no self awareness" on the role it played in creating the problem in the first place.


    The most recent figures suggest Scotland's accident and emergency departments treated 91% of patients within four hours between October and December.

    This compares to 94% in the previous quarter and is slightly worse than England's performance of 92.6%.

    Image caption: Ambulance

    Scottish Government targets are for at least 95% of A&E patients to be seen, admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

    NHS Lanarkshire had the worst average figure over the period - at 85.5%.

  41. A&E

    Jenny Marra then focuses on A&E waiting time statistics saying the government should publish them weekly as they do in England.

  42. Budget reaction


    Lang Banks WWF tweets: Great to see a whole section of @JohnSwinney's #ScotBudget given over to low carbon spend. Good for people & climate

    Sam Gardner tweets: Great to see extra £20M for energy effeciency in today's #ScotBudget thanks to all those who pushed this @patrickharvie @fuelpovertyguru

  43. Oil industry

    The resilience fund would be initially used for the oil industry, confirms Labour MSP Jenny Marra.

    Labour MSP Jenny Marra
    Image caption: Labour MSP Jenny Marra
  44. Resilience fund

    SNP MSP Mark Macdonald asks Labour to clarify if it is a general resilience fund or an oil resilience fund.

  45. Definitions

    Mr Brown says the definition of revenue neutrality appears to have changed over time.

    At one point it was enough to cover block grant adjustment, he says, then it meant it will cover the block adjustment and have a reserve.

    He says a designed tax increase could be put in cash reserve to the detriment of housing market and economy as a whole and he says his party will not be supporting the budget at decision time.

  46. 'Thanks to the chancellor'

    Mr Brown says the three most significant changes to the Scottish budget have been thanks to the chancellor of the exchequer.

    The Conservative finance spokesperson says:

    • The Barnett consequentials from NHS funding increases down south lead to the £127 announced today for the health service
    • Business rates being capped 2% is also thanks to George Osbourne
    • The changes to the Land and Buildings Transactions Tax follow Mr Osbourne's changes and do not nearly go far enough
    Conservative MSP Gavin Brown
  47. 'Turf war'

    Conservative Finance spokesperson Gavin Brown says in terms of education "i cannot help but think education of children in Scotland will be best served if all levels of government work together".

    "I don't think using a budget speech to "kick Cosla" when they're not in a position to stand up for themselves helps anyone." he adds.

  48. 'Economic tsunami'

    Labour MSP Jackie Baillie turns to Labour's proposal for a resilience fund, highlighting the drop in oil prices could lead to a scale of job losses that could "exceed Ravenscraig".

    Ms Baillie says this will be an "economic tsunami" for the North East.

    north sea oil platform

    The Labour MSP calls for a Scottish Office of Budget Responsibility completely independent of government.

    Genuinely disappointed that Mr Swinney does not appear to have listened to any of Labour's proposal.

  49. Education

    Ms Baillie says the concordat Mr Swinney signed up to "now lies in tatters".

    She says in 2014 the teacher pupil ratio got worse so Mr Swinney is continuing with "failure".

    The government's own figures, she claims, show a "real terms reduction in school spending."

    She adds we believe education is key in the fight to tackle inequality.

  50. NHS

    Ms Baillie says an IFS report shows a real terms reduction on health spending in Scotland.


    She accuses Mr Swinney of providing "excuses".

    Ms Baillie says the time for action on the NHS is now and "not one new penny is allocated today".

  51. 'Substantial resources'

    Labour MSP Jackie Baillie says "our budget requests have been based on what we believe is in the interests of the country".

    "Mr Swinney has substantial resources available from Barnett consequentials and they can fund our requests", she says.

    Labour MSP Jackie Baillie
    Image caption: Labour MSP Jackie Baillie

    Ms Baillie says no-one can be in any doubt of the pressure on our NHS and A&E departments and mentions waiting times targets.


    The deputy first miniister says to protect and reform Public Services the budget will:

    •Increase the health budget to over £12 billion with a funding increase of £383 million

    •Invest over £200 million in 2015-16 to help drive integration of adult health and social care

    •Support 1000 additional police officers

    •Protect the Local Government budget

    •Maintain a Scottish living wage for public sector workers covered by public sector pay policy

    •Continue the commitment to no compulsory redundancies.


    The finance secretary says that to tackle inequalities the budget will:

    •Drive investment in affordable housing of over £390 million to deliver 6000 affordable homes and £125m of additional financial support for the housing sector.

    •Invest more than £300 million over two years to extend annual funded childcare to 600 hours for 3 and 4 year olds and vulnerable 2 year olds.

    •Provide additional support for looked after children

    •Provide £81 million to mitigate against Wesminster's welfare reform including the 'Bedroom Tax'

    •Maintain a council tax freeze across Scotland

    •Continue the Scottish Government's social wage commitments including free prescriptions, concessionary travel and free personal care


    Mr Swinney says to make Scotland a more prosperous country the budget will:

    • Secure £4.5 billion of infrastructure investment in 2015-16
    • Support £330 million of further capital investment in our Scotland's Schools for the Future programme through NPD funding
    • Provide £140 million to deliver 2 new college campuses through the NPD pipeline
    • Continue to deliver the most competitive business tax environment in the UK
    • Invest £16.6 million in 2015-16 to further take forward recommendations of the Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce
    • Maintain the most competitive business environment in the UK
  55. Educational inequality

    Mr Swinney announces £20 million additional funding to improve educational life chances for all and raise attainment.

    puils in science class
    Image caption: Curriculum sceptics fear pupils will have less knowledge

    This funding for this coming year will be followed by further funding in next year's budget and the details of how this additional investment will be utilised will be announced shortly, he says.

  56. Education

    Mr Swinney says when sufficient funding is available to support the employment of teachers it cannot be acceptable that the numbers of teachers declined slightly last year and the ratio of pupils to teachers rose slight

    To help ensure delivery of the teacher numbers commitment and in recognition of the general budget pressures authorities are facing he says he is providing a further £10 million for 2015-16 in addition to the £41 million previously allocated to support this commitment.

    Exam room

    In order to protect that investment in teacher numbers this total resource of £51 million will only be available to local authorities on a council by council basis if they are prepared to sign up to a clear commitment to protect teacher numbers.

    Any council that does not make and deliver on that commitment will not benefit from that funding, he says.

  57. NHS budget

    Mr Swinney says: "A vote for the budget today will see an additional £127m of extra spending for frontline healthcare in our NHS."

    NHS hospital

    "That will take our total additional frontline investment for 2015-16 to £383 million as part of a total NHS budget in excess of £12 billion, and every penny of that money will help our frontline services."

  58. Fuel poverty

    Green MSP Patrick Harvie asks if the figure of £20m extra is calculated to tackle fuel poverty or meet climate change targets.

    Mr Swinney says this government is committed to both areas.

  59. LBTT

    The finance secretary also says this is a landmark budget, including for the first time government proposals for the rates and bands of Scottish Landfill Tax and Land & Buildings Transaction Tax, devolved through the Scotland Act 2012 and which take effect for the first time in 2015-16.

    Property in Scotland

    As a result, he says, 50% of homebuyers will pay no tax and over 90% of taxpayers will pay no tax at all or be better off compared to the UK's current tax rates.

  60. Welfare mitigation

    Mr Swinney says the budget continues to mitigate UK government welfare cuts with £81m of support and delivers on the Scottish government's commitments to expand childcare and to provide free school meals for all p1-p3 pupils.

  61. Where the power lies

    Our economic strategy is working, he says, but in some circumstances the substantive powers to tackle issues lie outwith this parliament.

    He calls on the UK government back oil and gas industry.

  62. SBBS

    Mr Swinney says we will not only continue to support Small Business Bonus Scheme but we will invest £11m to match the poundage of business rates south of the border.

    Sterling notes
  63. 'Fairer and equitable'

    The finance secretary also lists a number of measure he says will create a fairer and more equitable Scotland including:

    • £526m for colleges
    • £1bn for universities
    • £4.5bn for capital investment in schools, hospitals and transport
  64. 'More prosperous and fairer'

    Mr Swinney says his budget plans will create a "more prosperous and fairer Scotland".

    Finance Secretary John Swinney
    Image caption: Finance Secretary John Swinney

    The finance secretary says he is allocating £16.6m to implement the findings of the Wood Commission.

  65. Budget debate

    Finance Secretary John Swinney gets to his feet to lead the final debate of the Budget Bill before calling on MSPs to pass his spending plans for 2015-16 at decision time.

  66. Agency staff

    Labour MSP John Pentland asks how the government ensures that the agency and contract staff it employs enjoy fair terms and conditions.

  67. Information technology

    SNP MSP Clare Adamson asks the Scottish government what it is doing to promote the IT industry as a career choice.


    Image caption: Budget

    We will shortly be bringing you extensive coverage of the final scrutiny of the budget for 2015-16.

  69. Training needs

    Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson asks what steps the government is taking to ensure that the Glasgow Curriculum and Estates Plan's proposed transfer of activity to the city centre does not have a detrimental effect on the training needs of people from deprived communities in Maryhill and Springburn.

  70. Minister's response

    Roseanna Cunningham says "we're making good progress" as set against targets included in the Scottish Youth Employment strategy.

    She says she is looking forward to the inaugural meeting of the national advisory group tomorrow.


    Councils are to share a further £6.5m to help boost vocational training, the Scottish government has announced.

    The cash is part of a £12m pot made available by ministers earlier this year in a bid to improve Scotland's vocational education system.

    A total of £5.5m has already been spent on taking forward measures recommended by a commission led by Sir Ian Wood.

    The announcement comes as the Scottish government prepares to unveil its new youth employment strategy on Monday.

    Sir Ian Wood's report was published last June.
    Image caption: Sir Ian Wood's report was published last June.

    It will set out plans for implementing recommendations from the Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce.

    Sir Ian's report, published in June, made a total of 39 recommendations, including providing quality work experience, increasing recognition of colleges' role in developing the workforce and providing more modern apprenticeships.

  72. Young workforce

    Conservative MSP Nanette Milne asks what progress it is making on implementing the recommendations of the Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce.

  73. Future jobs fund

    Labour MSP Mark Griffin asks whether the government plans to establish a future jobs fund for Scotland.

  74. Minister's response

    Fair Work, Skills and Training Minister Roseanna Cunningham says "We don't yet know what will be available to us in the work programme as awaiting UK government proposals."

    She says we think it may only be related to longer term unemployed but we wait to find out in detail.

    Fair Work, Skills and Training Secretary Roseanna Cunningham
    Image caption: Fair Work, Skills and Training Secretary Roseanna Cunningham

    "I have given a commitment that once we know the detail I will come back to the chamber and engage on specific aspects.", she adds.


    Last December it emerged that the UK government was extending its work programme contracts despite a cross-party deal that it was due to come under Holyrood control.

    The Scottish government said it was a "flagrant and wilful breach" of the Smith Commission process to devolve more power to Scotland.

    But Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said the decision was made before the commission was set up.

    The work programme helps jobseekers find and keep employment.

  76. Work Programme

    Labour MSP Mary Fee asks how the Scottish government how it will roll out the Work Programme once it is devolved.

  77. Minster's response

    Youth Employment Minister Annabel Ewing says the government recognises the neew dfor more action to support young disabled people.

    Annabel Ewing says Schools Development Scotland works with Barnardos to try and encourage apprenticeships.


    She says funding has been allocated including £2m has been made available for targeted recruitment employers incentives.

    Ms Ewing says she's determined to do all she can to improve opportunities for young disabled people getting in to the world of work.


    Last summer the Scottish government allocated an initial £4.5m to help equip young people for work.

    The figure emerged in the government's response to the findings of the Wood Commission.

    Image caption: Apprentices

    It had found Scotland was "not preparing or equipping young people for the world of work".

    The government said it would also address gender segregation and assist young disabled people and minority groups to better access training and employment programmes.

  79. Disabled young people apprenticeships

    Lib Dem MSP Alison McInnes asks the Scottish government what steps it is taking to improve access to modern apprenticeships for disabled young people.

  80. Ministerial response

    Housing Minister Margaret Burgess says the government is bringing empty homes back into use via the Shelter Led Scottish Empty Homes Partnership and other funding programmes.

    The minister say sover 500 empty homes were brought back into use in 2014-15 and the partnership will be extended for a further three years.

    Empty property

    There is also a £4m Empty Homes Fund, says Ms Burgess.


    The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership aims to help councils and their partners pursue work to bring private sector empty homes back into use.

    The project is funded by the Scottish Government and housed by Shelter Scotland.

  82. Empty properties

    SNP MSP Mike MacKenzie asks what action the Scottish government is taking to help bring empty properties back into use as housing.

  83. Third sector

    Liberal Democrat Jim Hume asks how the the Scottish government will support and develop the third sector across the South Scotland region.

  84. Poverty in rural areas

    Labour MSP Rhoda Grant asks the Scottish government what it is doing to tackle poverty in the Highlands and Islands.

  85. Ministerial response

    Preventing homelessness is in the young is a key priority of the Scottish government says Housing Minister Margaret Burgess.

    Margaret Burgess

    The Homelessness Prevention Strategy Group is tasked with tackling the issue she says.

    The minister says this has led to a fall in the number of 16-24 year olds who are homeless recently.


    A new Scotland-wide resource centre to stop family arguments and youth homelessness was announced in April 2014.

    The Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution (SCCR) provides families with support and advice on how to solve any conflicts.


    Experts said mediation services were the best way to stop young people leaving the family home and becoming homeless.

    The SCCR was established by Edinburgh's Cyrenians charity and is funded by the Scottish government.

    Figures show nearly 6,000 young people become homeless in Scotland each year because the relationship between them and their family breaks down.

  87. Homelessness

    Labour MSP Siobhan McMahon asks the Scottish government what progress is being made on preventing youth homelessness.

  88. Town centre regeneration

    Labour MSP Elaine Murray asks how the Scottish government will support town centre regeneration in Dumfriesshire in 2015-16.

  89. Equal pay

    Conservative MSP Alex Fergusson asks what engagement the Scottish government has had with Dumfries and Galloway Council and Unison regarding equal pay claims from 2005.

  90. Poverty

    SNP MSP Christina McKelvie asks the Scottish government what support it provides to people facing poverty.

  91. Minister's response

    Local Government Minister Marco Biagi says for adaptation recent changes to building stands guidance have improved many areas including flood resilience and construction resistant to wind and rain

    Local Government Minister Marco Biagi
    Image caption: Local Government Minister Marco Biagi

    He says current new build energy standards make a significant contribution to reducing emissions.


    A ministerial taskforce was appointed last summer to get to grips with Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions after reduction targets were missed for the third year in a row, the then climate change minister has announced.

    Paul Wheelhouse said the cabinet sub-committee on climate change would aim to ensure co-ordination of the strategic response to emissions, which rose slightly (0.8%) in 2012, bucking a general downward trend over the last decade.

    Climate change

    Mr Wheelhouse was making a statement on the 2012 Greenhouse Gas Inventory on 10 June 2014.

    In 2012, emissions were estimated to be 55.6 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), above the target of 53.226 Mt.

  93. Portfolio questions begins

    SNP MSP Rob Gibson asks the Scottish government how building standards can be improved to help mitigate and adapt to climate change.

  94. Portfolio Questions

    Here are the questions expected to be raised today:

    Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners' Rights

    1. Rob Gibson: To ask the Scottish Government how building standards can be improved to help mitigate and adapt to climate change. (S4O-03971)

    2. Christina McKelvie: To ask the Scottish Government what support it provides to people facing poverty. (S4O-03972)

    3. Alex Fergusson: To ask the Scottish Government what engagement it has had with Dumfries and Galloway Council and Unison regarding equal pay claims from 2005. (S4O-03973)

    4. Elaine Murray: To ask the Scottish Government how it will support town centre regeneration in Dumfriesshire in 2015-16. (S4O-03974)

    5. Siobhan McMahon: To ask the Scottish Government what progress is being made on preventing youth homelessness. (S4O-03975)

    6. Rhoda Grant: To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to tackle poverty in the Highlands and Islands. (S4O-03976)

    7. Jim Hume: To ask the Scottish Government how it will support and develop the third sector across the South Scotland region. (S4O-03977)

    8. Mike MacKenzie: To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to help bring empty properties back into use as housing. (S4O-03978)

    9. Richard Lyle: To ask the Scottish Government what recent discussions it has had with the UK Government regarding transfer of responsibility for the electoral registers. (S4O-03979)

    10. Jim Eadie: To ask the Scottish Government what recent discussions it has had with the UK Government regarding the devolution of benefits. (S4O-03980)

    Fair Work, Skills and Training

    1. Alison McInnes: To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to improve access to modern apprenticeships for disabled young people. (S4O-03981)

    2. Mary Fee: To ask the Scottish Government how it will roll out the Work Programme once it is devolved. (S4O-03982)

    3. Jamie McGrigor: [Not Lodged]

    4. Mark Griffin: To ask the Scottish Government whether it plans to establish a future jobs fund for Scotland. (S4O-03984)

    5. Nanette Milne: To ask the Scottish Government what progress it is making on implementing the recommendations of the Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce. (S4O-03985)

    6. Linda Fabiani: To ask the Scottish Government how it encourages engineering apprenticeships. (S4O-03986)

    7. Patricia Ferguson: To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to ensure that the Glasgow Curriculum and Estates Plan's proposed transfer of activity to the city centre does not have a detrimental effect on the training needs of people from deprived communities in Maryhill and Springburn. (S4O-03987)

    8. Clare Adamson: To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to promote the IT industry as a career choice. (S4O-03988)

    9. John Pentland: To ask the Scottish Government how it ensures that the agency and contract staff it employs enjoy fair terms and conditions. (S4O-03989)

    10. Murdo Fraser: To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to incentivise businesses to pay the living wage. (S4O-03990)

  95. Coming up

    This afternoon will be dedicated to the Budget but first MSPs will quiz ministers on social justice, communities and pensioner's rights during portfolio questions.

    Swinney in parly
    Image caption: Finance Secretary John Swinney will ask MSPs to back his budget for 2015-16

    And then MSPs will then quiz fair work, skills and training ministers.

  96. That's lunch

    That's lunch but BBC Scotland's Democracy Live will be back with in depth coverage of the budget this afternoon from 2.40pm.

    Scottish Parliament

    Indeed we will of course return before that to cover portfolio questions.

  97. European priorities

    The committee reconvenes and begins to consider European priorities for 2015.

  98. Suspension

    The committee suspends briefly

  99. Vote

    The committee approves the minor legislation relating to the Regulator's Strategic Code of Practice.

    Murdo Fraser

    The motion is carried, with one vote against.

  100. Regulator's Strategic Code of Practice

    Energy Minister Fergus Ewing calls on the committee to back subordinate legislation relating to the Regulator's Strategic Code of Practice.

    Economy Committee panel

    It sets out to support regulators in delivering good practice.

  101. LCM agreed

    The committee unanimously agrees to recommend to parliament that it agrees the LCM for the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill (UK Parliament legislation).

    Economy Committee
  102. Negative or affirmative?

    Convener Murdo Fraser asks a technical question over why the Scottish governments powers would be made negative procedure.

    Mr Ewing says they considered whether regulations should be affirmative procedure.

    He says it is likely there will be a deal of regulations, with many of a technical nature and it would be appropriate to use negative procedure.

  103. Avoidance methods

    Labour MSP Johnann Lamont says greater concern would be those who are low paid in the public sector.

    Labour MSP Johann Lamont
    Image caption: Labour MSP Johann Lamont

    However, she says there is a concern some people who work for consultancy firms would define themselves as a company to get around the rules.

    Mr Ewing says that is a reasonable concern and we will try include a provision to prevent avoidance methods in the bill.

  104. Policy intention

    Mr Harvie says the bill is not addressing inequality. He asks should public and private sector compensation payments be treated differently.

    Green MSP Patrick Harvie
    Image caption: Green MSP Patrick Harvie

    Mr Ewing says he believes they are different in many areas. for example conditions in relation to security of tenure.

    It is impossible to equiparate the public and private sector, he says.

    Mr Ewing says we are way off piste and perhaps we should return to base.

  105. Regulation required

    The parliament recognised regulations were necessary, Mr Ewing says.

    "When one retires, one retires", he says and we believe it is necessary to regulate this so one can't retire with an exit payment and then start work again the next day.

  106. Contractors

    In terms of reemployment of public sector workers who are rehired as contractors, Mr Ewing says where an individual is employed by a large consultation firm, it would be an "unfair restriction".

    This is incorporated in the bill, he says.

  107. Exit payments

    Business Energy and Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing says in the interest of securing value for tax for money and mobility exit market payments provisions should apply across the UK.

    He calls on the committee to back the LCM for the Small Business, Enterpirse and Employment Bill as it is necessary to tackle exit payments on retiral.

    Energy Minister Fergus Ewing

    The bill has been amended, he says and he outlines the amendments to the committee.

    He says the Scottish government is rigorous in its pursuit of getting value for money across the public sector.

  108. Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill LCM

    Economy Minister Fergus Ewing explains the LCM on the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill (UK Parliament legislation).

  109. Committee suspends

    The committee temporarily suspends again.

  110. Grand Theft Auto

    Ms Hyslop says Scotland is seen as a centre of creativity citing the "fastest selling entertainment of all time" Grand Theft Auto created by Rock Star.

    Grand Theft Auto
    Image caption: Grand Theft Auto
  111. Project scales

    Mr Swinney says independent producers had told him they had difficulty accessing sums of money which would give them sufficient scale to take on size of project.

    He says they reported that the investment sums they could access "kept them in a rut" and they couldn't get up to a new level.

    He says he hopes the financial transcaations the government has made available will help companies to increases the size of projects and then feed growth.

  112. Brief suspension

    The committee temporarily suspends due to audio problems at the parliament but they have now resolved the problem.

  113. Games industry

    SNP MSP Dennis Robertson says he has been told the games industry has little knowledge of marketing and accounting.

    Denis Robertson
    Image caption: SNP MSP Dennis Robertson

    How can we get these creative game designers to access the required business knowledge.

    Mr Swinney says running a business is a completely different proposition to being creative so we must ensure the correct advice and support is available and encourage collaborations between creative types and business people.

  114. 'Shambles'

    SNP MSP Richard Lyle says one of his constituents has described Creative Scotland as "a shambles".

    Ms Hyslop says Creative Scotland have to say no more than they say yes which disappoints people and is frustrating.

    Fiona Hyslop and John Swinney
    Image caption: Fiona Hyslop and John Swinney

    She says she doesn't recognise the term shambles and says "We are capable of delivering but we need to scale up what we're doing".

    "I recognise we need to continually improve relations with agencies and the sector as whole and I welcome the committee shining a light on the industry and I welcome the report", she adds.

  115. 'Grass roots'

    Green MSP Patrick Harvie asks what arrangements are in place ensure to ensure the grass roots of the film industry get access to the funding announced yesterday.

    Ms Hyslop says the £1 million Screen Sector Skills Fund is absolutely about nurturing new talent and helping the development of the film industry.

    Fiona Hyslop

    She says the £2 million Tax Credit Loan Fund will provide a loan facility to qualifying productions in Scotland.

  116. Co-production

    Mr Macdonald also asks which industry assists companies to access the export market.

    Fiona Hyslop says Creative Scotland lead on this with other industries and Creative Europe funding has increased.

    BBC dubbing

    Ms Hyslop says a lot of production on television have co-production with different countries. She says this is important and she has spoken to French and Polish ministers on this.

    "Co-production is the way the industry is going and I want us to maximise that", she says.

  117. Independent TV production

    SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald raises the issue of Creative Scotland focussing almost entirely on film with no help going to the independent TV production sector.

    Mr MacDonald asks what support is available to independent TV producers.

    Gordon Macdonald

    Ms Hyslop reiterates her point that the broadcasters themselves are the commissioners of independent productions.

    The culture secretary expresses concern about the future budget of the BBC which she says is likely to reduce substantially going towards 2017.

  118. Film Studio

    Green MSP Patrick Harvie asks about the film studio.

    Patrick Harvie

    He says Ms Hyslop gave an "unequivocal yes" to bringing a film studio under the current parliamentary term, but then went on to say she couldn't put a timescale on it and then later said it is a a reasonable expectation that a film studio will be brought to Scotland under this government.

    Ms Hyslop said it was an optimistic yes, but she is "reasonably confident" it will happen.

  119. Agency remits

    Mr Swinney says he is not aware of a problem with confusion over any of the agencies' remits.

    He says in terms of alignment there is a challenge getting agencies to work in a coordinated way.

    John Swinney

    Ms Lamont encourages him to review evidence that has been given to the committee.

  120. No producer development funding

    Former Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont says that in the last five years Scottish Enterprise had delivered no producer development funding whatsoever.

    Ms Lamont says Scotland is commercially losing out to other parts of the UK where more support is presumably on offer.

    Johann Lamont

    Finance Secretary John Swinney says Scottish Enterprise will make decisions on support for film companies through the account management process.

    Mr Swinney says Scottish Enterprise makes judgements about production it is able to support in response to the particular request of producers.

  121. Lack of support

    Labour MSP Johann Lamont says this is about creativity and how it matters to the economy, creative people require economic support.

    Ms Lamont says to the ministers that she and they are happy to go to 26 meetings, but film industry business people don't have the time.

    Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen
    Image caption: The producers of Game of Thrones looked at filming in Scotland before opting for Northern Irelancd

    Film producers regard the industry as being in crisis with Scotland losing out to other parts of the UK, she says.

  122. Screen agency

    In terms of a dedicated screen agency, Ms McAlpine says the industry have said they would like one.

    Ms Hyslop says the spend from Creative Scotland is almost three times more than under Scottish Screen.

    She says whether there was a separate screen agency or Creative Scotland it would still involve work with agencies like Scottish Enterprise.

    "I am not of the view we need a separate screen agency", she adds.

  123. Film studio pledge

    SNP MSP Joan McAlpine says discussion about a film studio goes back to the 1940s, and asks do you believe it will be your government that delivers a studio.

    SNP MSP Joan McAlpine
    Image caption: SNP MSP Joan McAlpine

    The culture secretary says: "Yes I am determined that we will."

  124. Commissioning

    Ms Hyslop says the parliament has called for greater production which has increased substantially.

    She says the BBC has looked at commissioning more widely and STV have produced strong dramas.

    Image caption: BBC

    But Ms Hyslop says the broadcasters aren't devoid of responsibility themselves.

    I will be working with the BBC and STV and look at long term sustainability- not just buying in talent but developing it, she says.

    "I don't think in terms of BBC and STV we have got to a maximum position when it comes to commissioning" but we have just gone through a year of the highest level of inward investment.

    Responsibility is not just for government but also for industry, she says.

  125. Creative Scotland priorities

    Creative Scotland's s key priorities include:

    • The establishment of a sustainable film studio
    • Increased incentives for film and television production which match, or better, other territories
    • Greater support for writers and script development
    • Talent and skills development across the entire film value chain
    • Support for Scotland's production community through sourcing increased funding
    • Greater emphasis on film and moving image education with clearer routes from education into industry
    • Development of real professional opportunities and sustainable careers across the screen sector.
  126. Creative Scotland

    Last October Creative Scotland set out its priorities for the film sector over the next three years.

    The Film Strategy details how the body will work with film makers and public partners as part of its "Unlocking Potential, Embracing Ambition" plan.

    Sunshine on Leith stars Peter Mullan as Rab
    Image caption: Sunshine on Leith stars Peter Mullan as Rab

    Creative Scotland said it aimed to make Scotland home to a "vibrant, culturally diverse and competitive film sector".

    The government arts body acknowledges that commercial film makers need incentives to come to Scotland.

  127. Film industry

    Labour MSP Lewis MacDonald saysthere has been 26 meetings with the government and the agencies looking at the film industry but no progress or resolution

    Mr Swinney says this is public money we are talking about and it requires scrutiny, otherwise he would be accused of not scrutinising matters enough.

    Lewis Macdonald

    There is extensive engagement here and 26 meetings in any sector is not unusual.

    Parliament would be surprised if there was not this level of scrutiny, he says.

  128. Industry needs

    On mentoring, Fiona Hyslop says industry representatives have said this is very important.

    John Swinney says "industry needs to articulate its needs and requirements."

    Fiona Hyslop and John Swinney

    Mr Swinney says the more we can be clear about what public sector intervention will be of assistance in terms of fulfilling that indusrty's potential the better.

    He says the more there is "clarity of industry aspiration" the more we can shape the support we give those industries.


    Last week Arabella Page Croft from Black Camel Pictures, which produced Sunshine on Leith, says there is a lack of focus and market failure in the film sector in Scotland.

    Ms Page Croft called for a film task force to be set up and for urgent government intervention to rectify this "crisis and market failure".

    The songs of Charlie and Craig Reid are used to tell the story in the film
    Image caption: The songs of Charlie and Craig Reid are used to tell the story in Sunshine on Leith

    "We are pretty depressed, pretty disillusioned."

    She says Scottish Enterprise are "not fit for purpose for looking after our film sector".

  130. Leadership and expertise

    Mr Swinney says the account managing system has got to address the needs of business across Scotland, whatever that system is.

    Industries have to show growth potential, he says.

    The Finance Secretary says Scottish Enterprise operates about 18-20 leadership groups which draw together various players from different industries to make sure Scottish enterprise is informed by the needs and aspirations of business leaders.


    TV studio

    The committee's inquiry into the creative industries focuses on:

    • The role of public sector agencies and the effectiveness of the support they provide
    • The role of the private sector in supporting the video games and the TV and film sectors
    • How the issues that hinder the growth of creative industries can be overcome and how to capitalise on opportunities
    • How to retain those with the necessary creative skills in Scotland
    • How to develop business skills for those in the TV and film and videos games industries;· Examples of international strategies for growing these sectors.
  132. Creative Scotland

    Who is monitoring the spend of Creative Scotland, asks SNP MSP Chic Brodie.

    Ms Hyslop says she has managed to protect Creative Scotland's funding and funding overall has increased from about £3m 2007-8 and it is now about £8m

    Image caption: Scots actor Sam Heughan plays a starring role in the big-budget series, Outlander

    But she says the decisions on what they spend and the films they invest in is up to Creative Scotland.

    World War Z, Outlander are examples of how Creative Scotland has invested in successful films.

    She says it is important to also support films which might not be as "commercially successful" but as a minister she can't determine this but "be under no illusion I scrutinise what they do."

  133. World War Z

    Ms Hyslop says Scottish Enterprise has a new proposition to put forward which would provide the highest sound stage of any location in the UK.

    The challenge is attracting investment but also supporting the indigenous film industry, she adds.

    Brad Pitt
    Image caption: Brad Pitt stars in World War Z

    She also says that Creative Scotland have funded very successful films like Word War Z.

  134. 'Happy coincidence'

    She says the announcement of the £3m funding on the eve of her appearance before the committee was a "happy coincidence".

  135. Film Studio

    The culture secretary says the creation of a film studio is being actively looked at bye the Film Studio Delivery Group which is an example of agencies working together.

  136. Multi agency approach

    Finance Secretary John Swinney says the support individual sectors of the economy require will rarely come from one single organisation.

    He says there will be skills requirements, business requirements and particular requirements for specific sectors.

    John Swinney

    We need to draw together all the expertise from several organisations for individual sectors, he says.

    In terms of the creative industries, he says, Creative Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland cover those areas and "we need to make sure they are joined up."

  137. Film industry funding

    Ms Hyslop details the £3m funding announcement for the film industry:

    1. A £2 million Tax Credit Loan Fund will provide a loan facility to qualifying productions in Scotland to fund the use UK film, animation and high-end TV Tax Credits earlier, which will assist producers in completing the finance of their projects and move them towards production.
    2. A £1 million Screen Sector Skills Fund will provide training and skills development opportunities for people already involved in the sector and young people considering a career in screen.
    Sunshine On Leith
    Image caption: The producer of Sunshine on Leith expressed concerns about film industry funding to the committee

    Both funds will be administered by Creative Scotland and will run over the financial year 2015/16, operational from April 2015.

    Skills Development Scotland will play an advisory role for the skills fund to ensure that it is aligned to their Skills Investment Plan for the creative industries due to be published in Spring 2015.

  138. Culture Secretary

    Fiona Hyslop says she is aware of the challenges facing the film indust

    Scottish Creative Industries Partnership brought together more bodies than just Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise, for example Skills Development Scotland.

    Fiona Hyslop

    "They have to work well and work well together."

    She says the Creative Industries Partnership is crucial in helping these bodies work together. ry.

  139. Earlier evidence

    Committee convener Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser says in terms of evidence already heard from the games industry. It has challenges but is optimistic in outlook, there are challenges in television, but the most serious concerns they've heard are in relation to film. He asks if the ministers are surprised by this.

    Murdo Fraser
  140. Economy Committee

    Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop is joined by Deputy First Minister and Finance Secretary John Swinney for this evidence session.

    Economy committee panel

    Ms Hsylop makes a brief opening statement saying how valuable the film and tv industries are.

    The culture secretary says a vibrant cultural sector is essential and Scotland is in a strong position to benefit from it.

  141. Cash boost for film industry

    The Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop faces questions as part of an inquiry into the health of creative industries in Scotland.

    The Economy Committee's fact-finding project has already heard film and television figures describe running a film company in Scotland today as a 'bleak prospect.'

    Image caption: Based on a series of bestselling books, Outlander has filmed across various Scottish locations

    The Scottish government announced last night two new funds for the industry - totalling £3m.

  142. Coming up

    The Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee will take evidence from Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop on the economic impact of the creative industries.

    Portfolio questions begins at 2pm and then the afternoon will be dedicated to the Budget.

    More money

    Last item of the day is a member's debate led by Labour MSP Neil Findlay on The Umbrella Company contract scam.