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MSP hits out at cuts holding region back

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By Newsdesk
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MSP hits out at cuts holding region back

SOUTH Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has hit out at the Scottish Government for making economic decisions which persistently ‘hold back’ Dumfries and Galloway.

Speaking during a debate on the economy in the Scottish Parliament recently, the MSP highlighted ‘brutal’ college cuts, as well as the huge reduction to the budget of the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency.

Mr Smyth said: “In areas such as Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders, the outward migration of young people is suffocating growth; there are fewer people with higher skill levels than elsewhere in Scotland; gross value added is consistently below the Scottish average; poor digital connectivity is a barrier to new and existing businesses; a lack of affordable housing is limiting the retention of young people and the attraction of new talent; and poor and declining public transport is undermining access to services, jobs and education.

“The failure to invest in key transport infrastructure such as the A75 holds back not just the region’s economy but Scotland’s economy.

“Low pay is endemic in the region.

“Limited access to workspace and business support means that we are simply not fulfilling the huge potential and immense economic talent of the south of Scotland.

“However, rather than take the action that is needed to revitalise and rejuvenate the region, ministers continue to take decisions that will hold it back.

“Let us take colleges, which are a key driver of economic growth. In the south of Scotland, there is a limited higher education offer and no stand-alone universities, so further education pathways are crucial.

“The brutal 13 per cent cut in the Skills Development Scotland contract at Dumfries and Galloway College in this financial year means a reduction in apprenticeship places.

“It is not just colleges that are bearing the disproportionate brunt of the cuts. I campaigned for a decade for a south of Scotland enterprise agency.

“The staggering 22 per cent planned cut in its budget will mean less support for businesses in the region, when there needs to be more support.

“In the past 16 years, the government has presided over low growth and low productivity. We need change.”

 

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