He will also match the Treasury commitment to a 1% pay rise for civil servants and go further with extra support for the low paid, spread the Living Wage, and the continuation of no compulsory redundancies.
The Finance Secretary has squeezed the following out of a reduced cake, much of it aimed at boosting the construction programme:
£180m over two years for construction, skills, employment and a “green economic stimulus
An employer recruitment initiative to get 10,000 youngsters into work£40m for affordable housing (controversially cut last year)
An Energy Skills Academy
£80m for school building
£17m for colleges and for student support
£6m for cycling
£1m for elite athletes
£2.5m for green buses
£1.5m for VisitScotland ahead of key years for tourism
£1m for historic buildings
Not stressed in these figures, but still budgeted for, is a continuing freeze on council tax, a source of growing controversy with an increasingly assertive Convention of Scottish Local Authorities which remains Labour-led.
On areas such as housing, colleges and boosting cycling, these will be seen as putting right the wrongs of last year, while some of the environmental issues will keep the Greens on side at a time when they are crucial to building referendum support.
Mr Swinney said the aim was to aid recovery and create jobs, especially in the renewables sector. He was also looking to push public service delivery into preventative approaches to spending, and to back the Social Wage.
The amount available to Ministers to spend next year, the Departmental Expenditure Limit, will be £28.4bn – £162m down on this year in cash terms and more if inflation is taken into account.
Mr Swinney said: “In difficult economic times this Government is doing everything within its limited power to stimulate Scotland’s economy, to invest in our young people, protect households, and support front line services.”
He added: “We are doing everything we can to support growth, public services and opportunities for the future but the UK Government needs to realise that more needs to be done.
"Only with the full levers of independence can Scotland properly capture economic opportunity and tackle inequality and poverty and we can do so more efficiently and effectively than currently happens in the UK.”
But Labour finance spokesman Ken Macintosh said the Finance Secretary had presided over jobs losses and could not stop Scotland slipping back into recession.
"Last year the Cabinet Secretary for Finance stood up in this Parliament and announced what he described as a budget for jobs and growth. He said he planned to steer Scotland in a distinct course," said Mr Macintosh.
"One year on: unemployment in Scotland is higher than the UK average and our country has sunk back into recession for the second time under his stewardship.
"It is certainly distinct. In fact, the decisions taken by this SNP minister and this SNP administration have cost 30,000 public sector jobs for the last year alone. Yet the finance minister stands before us today with no hint of humility and no hint of apology."
Mr Swinney passes the buck to Westminster, Mr Macintosh said, accusing him of having "slammed the college door" shut on young people through the cuts to education.
Among the criticism, Mr Macintosh noted "a scrap of good news" for the housing sector. "But given the cuts last year, again he is not even undoing the damage he has wrought in this industry: 12,000 builders lost their jobs last year due to his decisions," he said.
Mr Macintosh underlined changes to the local government budget allocation. About £950 million is being reduced with the transfer of responsibility for policing to the new Scottish Police Authority. A further £275 million will be lost through the transfer of responsibility for fire services. More than £30 million is being added, including £23 million as a result of Department of Work and Pensions transfer of the council tax reduction scheme.
Conservative finance spokesman Gavin Brown said the budget is "artful" at best. Housing lost £100 million and will get £40 million back, he said. About £50 million was taken from colleges which get £17 million back.
"When you add those together, how on earth does he justify his pre-budget statements about putting every single penny he can into the economy and saying he has an unrelenting pursuit for economic growth?" Mr Brown said.
Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie repeated his party's call for changes to the way the Scottish Water utility is run. He argues that £1.5 billion can be found by changing to a "public benefit corporation" which Mr Swinney dismissed as privatisation.
"He wants a relentless pursuit of economic growth but this is a timid budget proposed by a Government more focused on independence than economic growth. If he was really committed to doing all he can, he would make the necessary reforms to release £1.5 billion locked up in the accounts of Scottish Water," Mr Rennie said. Money could be ploughed into jobs, energy efficiency and broadband connections, he said.
Independent MSP Margo MacDonald once again urged Mr Swinney to look at PFI contracts for which she said public sector bodies are paying "extortionate" and above-inflation rates.
Mr Swinney replied: "I have explored very carefully the nature of the contractual commitments that were made under PFI schemes and if I could unpick any of these schemes, I would unpick them."
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