Budget boost for the area

Borders MP John Lamont at Westminster.
Borders MP John Lamont at Westminster.

Berwickshire’s public services are set to get a boost from this week’s budget according to local MP John Lamont.

The Scottish Government is to get £1bn more to spend on public services following Chancellor Philip Hammond’s budget which included an extra £550m for the NHS, £41m for road maintenance and £43m from Business Rates Discount for Scotland.

The Scottish Government is free to spend this money in any way it sees fit, but Mr Lamont has urged the SNP to ensure that it focuses on public services which are struggling in Berwickshire.

Mr Lamont also welcomed the delivery of some key requests of the Scottish Conservatives, including a freeze of fuel duty, whisky duty and support for the Borderlands Growth Deal.

The Chancellor also announced a £200m pilot for broadband in rural areas. East Berwickshire currently has some of the slowest broadband speeds in the UK, with more than half of properties receiving a speed below the Universal Service Obligation of 10 Mb/s.

John Lamont MP said: “This budget included some great news for Berwickshire, particularly the fuel duty freeze and tax cuts for those on the lowest pay.

“Since it was introduced, the fuel duty freeze has saved the average motorist £1,000 and when a car is a necessity for many in Berwickshire, I know this is welcomed.

“I am also keen to see Berwickshire take advantage of some of the extra money for full fibre broadband as far too many people are still putting up with a poor service.

“Above all, Scottish public services are set to benefit from a £1bn increase in funding, thanks to spending commitments announced by the Chancellor. The SNP need to put this to good use and spend it on the things that matter to the people of Berwickshire,”

The one area of doubt for Scotland is how the tax-free personal allowance going up to £12,500 will impact north of the border and that won’t be known until the Scottish Government publishes its own draft budget next month.