John Lamont is Conservative MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

SBC Cuts

The Scottish Government’s budget last week made for miserable reading – tax rises and cuts to council budgets.

Thanks to the UK Government, the SNP’s own budget is going up this year, in fact they have more than £520m more to spend in 2019/20. This means that spending cuts and tax rises are Nicola Sturgeon’s choice and are simply not necessary.

Tax rises will be hugely damaging to the Scottish Borders as senior teachers and nurses, the very people we are already struggling to recruit will be put off coming here. Anyone earning over £27,000 will pay more tax than they would in the rest of the UK. And the SNP even had the cheek to claim credit for tax cuts for those on low incomes. The reality is that those on low incomes will benefit from a £130.49 tax cut and only 49p of this is a result of the Scottish Government!

And the amount of money the Scottish Government has given local authorities is also set to fall. The SNP are expecting councils to deliver more services, like increased childcare provisions, but are not giving them the money to do so. Early estimates suggest Scottish Borders Council are facing a cut of around three per cent in their budget. Put simply, this will inevitably mean some services have to go.

People will be paying more in taxes, but they will face poorer local services. This is a pay more, get less budget from the SNP.

Galashiels Academy Visit

I was delighted to welcome pupils and staff from Galashiels Academy to Westminster recently. They certainly timed their visit well as it is a very busy week in Parliament!

I hope it was an interesting and rewarding experience to see for themselves how the UK Parliament works. Quite a few Borders schools have already taken advantage of the Parliament’s transport subsidy and paid a visit to Westminster. I’d encourage anyone with an interest in politics or current affairs to make a trip down to see how Scotland’s other Parliament works.

While it may look imposing from the outside, Westminster is open to visitors all year-round Monday to Saturday to attend debates, committee hearings or take a tour.

Festive message

I’d like to wish each and every one of my constituents a very merry Christmas. I do hope you have a lovely time, wherever you are spending Christmas. This can be a difficult time for some people, so if you can, check in with any neighbours who might be on their own over the festive period.

For those who are employed in our emergency services this will not be a quiet time. We are all incredibly grateful for their continuing work keeping us safe and healthy while we enjoy some time off. We should also spare a thought for the brave men and women in our armed forces and the great sacrifices that they make for us.

My constituency office will be closing for a while over the festive period, but I can still be contacted in an emergency via email.