The SNP’s new Programme for Government will bring many benefits to people in Falkirk district by driving progress in a wide range of areas, including health, the economy, education, social security, infrastructure and the environment.

Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson has welcomed the ambitious action proposed throughout 2018-19. Highlights include:
• The National Infrastructure Mission will invest £1.5billion more in infrastructure each year by 2025-26, which means an additional £7billion will be invested in schools, hospitals, houses, transport, faster broadband and low-carbon technology between now and then.
• Head teachers will be empowered to lead improvements to their schools with more control over their own budgets. Ways will be developed for parents and pupils to make their voices heard in decision-making, efforts to support teacher recruitment will continue and £33million will be invested over three years to support children in care with education.
• The first Best Start Grant payments for low-income families with young children will be made by Christmas, six months earlier than planned. The Carer’s Allowance will be increased by 13%, paying out an extra £442 per person this year.
• The way mental health is treated in children and adults will be reformed thanks to a £250million investment. This will include delivering 430 school, college and university counsellors and fast-tracking specialist treatment for those with serious mental illness.
• The electrification of Scotland’s roads will be stepped up by adding 1500 new charge points and investing £20million to help people switch to electric vehicles. Scotland’s carbon footprint will be reduced by adding 500 ultra-low emission vehicles to public sector fleets and investing in more than 100 new green buses. By the end of next year, there will be a 20% increase in seating capacity on rail services.
• A national export plan, backed by £20million, will boost the value of Scottish exports by helping companies to succeed in emerging markets and providing additional help to those considering overseas trade.
• Major reforms in the justice system will create a new support system for victims, witnesses and families of those affected by crime, including a dedicated case worker for families of murder victims.

Mr Matheson, who is also the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, said: “Our ambitious Programme for Government includes an additional £7billion infrastructure investment in public buildings, transport and digital connectivity across Scotland over the next five years, which is great news for jobs and the economy in Falkirk district and beyond.

“Constituents will start to benefit from our new Scottish social security system, which puts dignity and respect at its heart, while our mental health services will be transformed by £250million of extra funding and there will be increased support for teachers, pupils and parents.

“Despite the economic uncertainty caused by Brexit, our national export plan will help to give local businesses who are looking to expand an opportunity to thrive. And our investment in low-carbon technology and public transport will help us to meet our targets in the global fight against climate change.

“Overall, this bold plan of action for the year ahead signals the progressive and forward-thinking nature of the SNP Government and the scale of our ambitions for Scotland.”