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Labour votes to support Government spending proposals

Labour has voted to support the SNP's spending plans for the year ahead after talks on how to mitigate the impact of the so-called bedroom tax.

The main opposition party, which has opposed previous SNP budgets, said it would back the general principles of the Budget Bill for 2014-15 as it passed its first stage at Holyrood yesterday.

The SNP has enough seats at ­Holyrood to push the Bill through on its own but the decision indicates political differences are being set aside. However, Labour may yet refuse to back the budget in the all-important final vote in two weeks unless changes are made.

Iain Gray, the Labour finance ­spokesman, said: "On that basis we are willing to support the Budget Bill moving forward this evening, in spite of the weaknesses we believe it embodies, so it can come back enhanced by measures and funds which effectively consign the bedroom tax to history in Scotland."

The Scottish Government has already pledged to spend £68 million in each of the next two years to mitigate welfare reforms introduced by the UK Government, as well as £20m in each year to limit the impact of the bedroom tax.

The Tory-LibDem policy, called a tax by opponents, cuts the amount of benefit people can get if they have a spare room. Labour wants the SNP to spend £50m a year, described as a small fraction of the overall budget. The party is also pushing forward with its own Bill to protect social housing tenants.

Mr Gray criticised other budget areas. He said: "There is no long-term plan or strategy to create jobs and growth, to reduce inequality to eradicate poverty, to address climate change or move definitively to preventative spending."

Finance Secretary John Swinney opened the debate on the principles of his spending plan, the last before the independence referendum.

He said: "Today I have set out the ­principles of the Budget Bill. It is a budget based on this Government's vision of a nation founded on the principle of fairness and prosperity, and one which demonstrates the benefits to Scotland of decisions being taken in Scotland by those who care most about Scotland."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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