Draft Scottish Budget 2013/14 for 'jobs and growth'

Scottish finance secretary John Swinney has pledged £180 million over the next two years to drive construction, skills and the green economy in the country.

Laying out the 2013/14 draft Scottish Budget he said the focus was on 'jobs and growth'.

The largest share of the Government spending will see £80 million invested into new schools to improve education and to support the construction sector, while £40 million will go towards creating affordable housing.

In response to the higher than average rate of unemployment in the country he also promised up to 10,000 job opportunities for young people.

John 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."

Elsewhere, it committed to a council tax freeze, maintaining police numbers, a refusal to introduce tuition fees, and an agreement to the Living Wage - a pledge for workers to earn enough to provide their family with life essentials.

Around £30 million will be given to the Green Investment Package over the next three years to help owners improve their energy efficiency measures such as home insulation. Investment into low carbon transports it said would support growth industries and go towards reaching its climate change targets.

Critics have thrown doubt of Swinney's claims of a 'Budget for growth' after making few alterations to his pre-recession plans announced a year ago.

Meanwhile, Swinney threw Scottish independence into the spotlight saying: "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."

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said the debate over independence was adding to uncertainty - it believes a major barrier for business - and that a referendum should be decided within two years.

Key points in the Budget include:

  • £80 million for the Schools for the Future Programme
  • £40 million for affordable housing
  • An employer recruitment initiative for young people
  • £1.5 million in marketing for the VisitScotland national tourist agency. The sector contributed £2.9 billion to the Scottish economy in 2010.