Derek Mackay criticised over ‘reheated’ financial health check pledge

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The Scottish Finance Secretary’s flagship conference policy announcement of financial health checks for older people and those on low incomes was “reheated”, opponents claim.

Derek Mackay used his speech at the SNP conference in Glasgow to announce the £3.3 million two-year scheme would launch next month.

He said: “Working with Citizens Advice Scotland, the financial health check should help an additional 15,000 people.

“It will cover things like access to free school meals, school clothing grants, benefit uptake, and cheaper deals on energy and other utilities to reduce household costs.”

Nicola Sturgeon first announced the policy at the 2016 SNP conference and also included it in her recent programme for government.

Mr Mackay also pledged to launch an economic action plan by the end of October and announced a £730,000 grant for Clyde Gateway for the creation of a new £2 million headquarters for the STUC in Glasgow’s east end.

He claimed the SNP is “winning the argument on the economics of independence” and expressed scepticism over Theresa May’s announcement on the end of austerity saying, “Spare us the soundbites – show us the money.”

Scottish Labour’s finance spokesman James Kelly said: “Labour welcomes the idea of financial health checks for older people and low income families.

“We welcomed it in the 2017 Programme for Government, the 2018 Programme for Government and when Nicola Sturgeon announced it in 2016 as well.

“Shameless soundbites and reheated announcements won’t cover the fact that Derek Mackay has not asked the richest to pay a fair share.”

His Conservative counterpart, Dean Lockhart, said: “It’s entirely in keeping with this tired SNP government that the only big things in this speech were a re-announced plan for financial health checks, and yet more commissions and action plans.

“After 11 years in government, it shows that the SNP has very little left in the tank.”

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