Details of the new SNP-Green Budget deal have emerged with plans to introduce free bus travel for people aged 18 and under and other key climate change-tackling measures. 

Cabinet Secretary for Finance Kate Forbes has reached an agreement with the Scottish Green Party to ensure passage of the Scottish Government’s budget at all stages in parliament.

The final agreement will increase support for young people, police, climate action and local government.

Forbes said that while she had reached agreement with the Scottish Greens, the budget delivered on key issues raised by all parties in the parliament and called on all MSPs to unite behind the budget on Thursday.

READ MORE: SNP Budget set to be backed by Scottish Greens – on these conditions

The agreement builds on key Scottish Government commitments to invest £15 billion in health and care services, deliver a child poverty payment and expands early learning and childcare.

It will deliver a National Concessionary Travel scheme offering free bus travel for 18s and under. The Scottish Government will undertake work on design and due diligence with a view to introducing such a scheme in January 2021.

This means from 2021 young people across Scotland should be able to travel for free on bus routes, in a similar way to the entitlement currently held by over-60s.

How much will it save young people?

The National: Stagecoach number 11 bus.

  • A student travelling from Castle Douglas to study at Dumfries College is set to save around £1,231 per academic year
  • A student travelling from Bathgate to Edinburgh College’s Granton campus is set to save around £1,216 per academic year
  • A student going the Moray campus of the University of the Highlands and Islands from Inverness is set to save around £945 per academic year
  • A family in Edinburgh can save £304 a year on their child going to and from school if they need to take the bus
  • It will save a family of four £22.70 on a trip from Keith to Inverurie Trampoline Park

Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “Free bus travel for young people is a transformational step towards tackling the climate emergency. This scheme will benefit young people starting college and families, some of whom stand to save thousands of pounds a year, and encourage whole generations of public transport users.

The National: Patrick Harvie

“Buses are the backbone of local public transport and the key to employment and training opportunities for so many of those starting out in life.

“Clearly, a Green budget would do even more to tackle the climate emergency, but securing this important free bus travel deal for the next generation builds on the powers we won for local councils to take control of local bus services. It is the Scottish Greens who are leading the change.

“And as we have done in every year we have struck a deal, the Greens have prioritised funding for local government, securing an additional £95m for libraries, schools and other local services.”

Other Budget allocations

It will also ensure a total uplift for the police service of £60 million in the next financial year with £13m of additional investment in frontline services and a further £5m of additional capital investment, on top of the £42m already committed.

It aims to support local services with £95m of further funding for local government, taking total additional Scottish Government support for local authorities to £589m.

To further support Scotland’s efforts to end our contribution to climate change a £45m package of investment in low carbon projects has been agreed including:

  • £25m of additional investment in local energy efficiency projects
  • £15m for local authority investment in active travel, taking the total investment in active transport in the next financial year to £100 million
  • £5m to further develop options for enhanced rail services

The National: ScotRail train stock

As part of the agreement, the Scottish Government has confirmed that the Infrastructure Investment Plan, which will be published later this year, will be aligned with the Infrastructure Commission’s call for all future projects to be compatible with the Scottish Government’s net-zero target and the Climate Change Act.

Forbes said she was "pleased to have reached an agreement" especially "in face of the uncertainty created by the UK Government’s decision to delay its budget".

She added: “I want to thank all parties for the constructive way in which they have approached this year’s discussions. While it is not possible to meet every party’s demands in full, I believe in reaching formal agreement with the Green Party, I am also delivering on key asks from every party and I encourage all MSPs to consider giving their support to Scotland’s budget.

The National: Kate Forbes MSP

“This budget invests a record £15bn in health and care services, delivers Scotland’s unique child payment to lift our youngest out of poverty, transfers £3bn of social security spending, supports our efforts to tackle the climate crisis and the creation of a Scottish National Investment Bank.

“The Scottish Government had already backed Police Scotland with a budget increase of £42m. We will now increase that support to £60m overall with £50m of investment for frontline services.

“And we will deliver in full the support Cosla and others have asked for with £95m for local government.

“We have made significant investments to tackle the climate crisis, with funding for a green deal, low carbon travel and £1.8bn of low carbon infrastructure.

“To further increase our action to tackle climate change and to support young people across Scotland, we will take steps to introduce a National Concessionary Travel scheme providing free bus travel for Scotland’s 18s and under. We will begin the work now to ensure such a scheme is legally compliant and that it meets young people’s needs with the aim of introducing it from January 2021. Alongside the £500 million bus infrastructure fund, this will help deliver a step-change in the use of public transport.

“I will also increase funding for walking, cycling and safer streets to £100 million for the first time and boost support for energy efficiency measures as part of our focus on reaching net-zero.

“When I presented the budget I said that every penny had been spent and that remains the case. In the absence of proposals to change spending, this additional investment will be funded through limited amounts of underspend, taking a multi-year approach to issues around non-domestic rates without impacting on local authority revenues, and additional consequentials from the fossil fuel levy. While this increases the financial exposure of the government it ensures that social security payments can be made and public services properly funded.”