Willie Rennie has spent much of the last six weeks or so trying to get an answer from Alex Salmond about whether he will use the unexpected £67 million he’s getting under the Barnett Formula to reverse the cut in funding to Scotland’s colleges he’s made. Even if he did, he’d still have £27 million to use for something else.
Trouble is, it looks to me like Salmond is more than happy to play politics with the futures of almost 9000 young people who will not otherwise be able to go to college because that’s how many places have been cut. Youth unemployment is going through the roof – it’s the time when the Government should be investing in more college places not cutting them back.
All Salmond wants to do is to pick fights with Westminster, to blame the UK Government for everything that could possibly go wrong. If I were a cynic, I might wonder if he didn’t have some independence-related agenda there.
Willie had another go at First Minister’s Questions today. I can’t really see how hard it can be for the Government to decide what to do with the money.
Afterwards, the Lib Dem leader said:
“Mr Salmond and his Government have had over a month now to fill the college funding gap.
“The Scottish Government is proposing a £40 million cut to colleges but has more than £67 million in extra money, available and unallocated. “Colleges throughout Scotland are extremely concerned about the impact these cuts are going to have on vital college places. It is estimated that 9000 places could be lost.
“While a new Youth Minister for Scotland is welcome, the First Minister has made no reference to supplying extra funds for colleges which are so needed.
“The Scottish Government need to stop hurting Scotland’s colleges. They have the funds available.
“The First Minister needs to stop the dodge and delay and get on the side of those who want to protect Scotland’s colleges.”
If you want to see this extra money go to saving Scotland’s colleges, sign up to Willie’s campaign here.