Michael Matheson has urged his political opponents across Central Scotland to heed a call by the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) for MSPs to work together to pass the Scottish Government’s budget.

SRC director David Lonsdale has warned that if the SNP’s proposed budget is defeated by opposition MSPs, it would create a “thick layer of uncertainty” for businesses at an “already challenging time”.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay last month set out his spending plans for 2019-20. MSPs will have an initial vote on the proposals on Thursday.

Mr Lonsdale said: “Whilst far from perfect, there is much within the proposed budget retailers can get behind, in particular on business rates, protecting ordinary workers from income tax rises and rejuvenating our town centres.

“In the current volatile economic and political climate, businesses need as much certainty as possible. That’s why it is crucial MSPs take a collegiate approach to ensure a budget which supports economic growth is passed without delay.

“Robust debate and scrutiny over the coming days is both right and necessary, however, any failure to pass a budget in good time would add a thick layer of uncertainty at an already challenging time for many businesses.”

Mr Matheson, MSP for Falkirk West, said: “I hope my parliamentary colleagues from across the political divide will heed the call from Scottish retailers and get behind our draft budget, which offers much-needed stability for businesses in the face of Brexit chaos and confusion.

“Among the SNP’s proposals is the introduction of a £50million Town Centre Fund to support high streets across Scotland, which will provide a welcome boost to retailers across Falkirk district.

“The draft budget will also protect our public services – for example by investing an additional £730million in our health services and spending £180million on raising attainment in schools. All this while ensuring that 99% of people in Scotland will pay the same level of income tax or less in the coming year.”