Concordat is setting aside differences

11th July 2008 at 01:00
I was surprised to read your leader on June 20 about expenditure and the "problem" of the concordat agreement between central and local government
I was surprised to read your leader on June 20 about expenditure and the "problem" of the concordat agreement between central and local government.

Labour's assertions on education spending do not stack up. In an ill-tempered contribution to the education debate in parliament the week before, Rhona Brankin complained that the SNP Government was "only" increasing education spending by 7.2 per cent - at a time when inflation is running at 3.3 per cent - and then went on to say she could see no future for Scotland.

Thankfully, Labour is no longer in charge in Scotland, and the SNP Government is delivering improvements in education. With the advent of the concordat between central and local government, we have seen them beginning to work together rather than squabble about who should take the blame as was so often the case in the past.

As Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop said in that debate, the problems faced by councils across the country are historic ones left over from the previous administration. The current Government has halted the decline in councils' share of public spending and, in fact, provided an increase.

The education spend makes up almost half of council spending, and council leaders have welcomed the increase they have received from the Scottish Government during the tightest spending round ever under devolution.

The new relationship between national and local government will deliver on the shared ambitions outlined in the concordat, and politicians in both arenas are working hard towards delivering on those improvements.

At long last, differences are being set aside in the interests of the people we are elected to serve. We should be celebrating that.

Christina McKelvie MSP, Scottish Parliament.

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