IT was good to get back to parliament this week after being off ill with Covid last week.

I know that Covid is here to stay but it was a salient reminder that it is still very much in the community.

Next Monday, I will be hosting the second of the public information events with the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) at The Beacon regarding McClure's.

At the time of writing, there are only a handful of tickets left.

This issue has been overwhelming by way of constituents engaging with my office but we are trying to help and signpost everyone who does get in touch.

The SLCC have been generous with their assistance so far and I thank them for that and I’m sure that will continue.

Yesterday, there was a debate in the Holyrood Chamber about the Scottish Social Security System.

It was designed by having dignity, fairness and respect at its heart.

In the current budget proposal for the next financial year, the Scottish Government are proposing record investment of £6.3 billion in social security expenditure and that the Scottish Fiscal Commission has forecast that this is an investment of £1.1 billion more than the funding received from the UK Government through the social security block grant.

We all know the current cost of living crisis was made in Westminster. Austerity was started by Labour when they were last in power and it was turbo-charged under the Conservatives, including when they were in coalition with the Lib Dems.

The record investment is an investment in people, including the Scottish Child Payment which has been estimated to have taken 50,000 children out of poverty.

Today, I will be speaking in the budget debate in the Scottish Parliament. This will be the most challenging budget under devolution with the Scottish Budget cut from Westminster.

I will be raising Inverclyde’s financial situation, but I also know that the funding formula that all councils operate under does not help areas with declining populations.

Our public services are under huge pressure after more than a decade of Westminster austerity.

The easy thing for opposition parties to argue for is to have more resources spent in public services. I don’t disagree.

We would all like more resources spent in public services. The challenge facing the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament is that the powers of Holyrood are limited and by law, the budget must balance.

That is not the case at Westminster. In effect, if additional resource is to be spent in local authorities, it needs to come from another budget.

To date, no opposition party has suggested which budgets need to be reduced to give to another. That won’t stop me highlighting why Inverclyde should get more investment.