THIS week the Scottish Parliament gave its backing to an SNP budget that offers economic stability in the face of Brexit, while giving a cash boost to the NHS, schools and other vital services.

Despite Westminster cuts of almost £2 billion in a decade to Scotland’s block resource grant, the SNP is proposing additional funding of almost £730 million for Scotland’s health and care services, more than £180 million to raise attainment in schools, and almost £500 million for the expansion of early learning and childcare.

The Finance Secretary Derek Mackay, pictured, also confirmed the Scottish Budget will provide an additional £90 million to support local government and as well as further flexibility and increased income from council tax.

Readers of the Greenock Telegraph will have read the local council leader suggest that he may propose a council tax increase of in the region of five per cent - or perhaps even greater.

The SNP Group on the council won’t be supporting this move. Councillors will try form a consensus next week on what a council tax increase should be.

Council tax isn’t popular. Unfortunately the political party’s of Scotland haven’t been able to come to a consensus on what should replace it.

As above, I think that with many people still facing pressure on their household budgets an increase of potentially more than per cent is just too much.

Council tax plays a vital role in helping fund council services. Every pound we raise in council tax is a pound spent locally on a service many people locally will benefit from, but we need to strike a balance.

The SNP will support an increase in council tax that continues to reflect on the financial position people are in and therefore we will not back any plans to increase council tax by more than three per cent.

Of course, the relevance of the Scottish budget to people in Inverclyde doesn’t stop with the increased funding to council services to pay for things like free child care and free personal care.

Many policies in the Scottish budget are again protected that we might sometimes forget that they are only protected thanks to the passing of the SNP Scottish Government's budget.

The Scottish Government will continue to provide the concessionary bus pass for everyone aged over 60 and eligible disabled people in Inverclyde and across Scotland. Over the years I’ve spoken to many people in Inverclyde who’ve told me just how important this policy is that enables Scotland’s older people and disabled people to travel for free on local or Scottish long distance buses.

One aspect of the budget that impacts many people across Inverclyde the continued full mitigation of the ‘Bedroom Tax’.

Across Scotland, 70,000 households, 80 per cent of which have a disabled family member, don’t have this unfair tax hanging over them. Many of those households are here right here in Inverclyde and I’m particularly thankful that, thanks to the agreed budget, people locally don’t have this callous UK government policy imposed upon them.

Inverclyde Council will set its budget in March and I’d urge everyone to make sure their voice is heard before then.