THE Scottish Government's budget, proposed earlier this month, has the potential to make a significant impact both here locally and to Scotland's wider commitment to end climate change.

It is also a budget delivered in very challenging times.

The UK Government's refusal to set its own budget before we set ours up here has had severe knock on effects, casting some uncertainty and doubt over funding for Scotland, while showing naked contempt for Scottish local authorities.

They are required to set their own local budgets by the 11th of March, the date the Tories indicated the UK Government's would also be laid out but as the Westminster chaos continues, we cannot even be certain they will make that date, putting our local councils under pressure.

It is against this backdrop that the Scottish Government has set out its spending plans for the next year.

Commitments of note locally relate to social security spending, with the Scottish Child Payment set to be rolled out in 2020.

Described by charities and poverty groups as a "game changer" in terms of tackling child poverty, aiming to lift 30,000 children out of poverty, this entitlement will make a huge difference to local families on low incomes struggling to make ends meet.

These payments are part of wider £3.4bn spending in Social Security Scotland, Scotland's welfare agency that puts user's dignity at its core.

Rejecting the callous benefit sanction culture of Westminster, I am delighted to see Scotland take on further responsibilities in terms of helping to support some of our most vulnerable.

I am also pleased to see £645million earmarked for the expansion of early learning and childcare, helping to support the SNP's plan to almost double the free provision of childcare to 1140 by August this year for all 3-and-4-year-olds.

This commitment, already being delivered in many of Clackmannanshire's nurseries, will be widely welcomed by local families, saving them up to £4,500 per year, while giving parent and carers more choice over how they access their child's funded hours.

Delivering more homes across Scotland is a key priority for this government, which has built 659 affordable homes in Clackmannanshire since 2007, 507 of those for social rent.

It is particularly encouraging to see, therefore, the investment of £800m to deliver the 50,000 new homes target within this parliamentary term.

The additional £30m for additional building will help to ensure that every one who lives in Clackmannanshire and further across Scotland will have a warm and safe house to call their own.

And for the first time ever, this budget provides over £15bn pounds in our health and care services, providing capital funding for elective care centres and over £9.4 billion in health and care partnerships so that people access the best treatment available, supported by well funded services and well supported staff.

More widely, this budget responds directly to the global climate emergency, with a package of actions to drive our transition to a net zero economy in a way that leaves no one behind. £1.8 billion of investment in specific projects to reduce emissions, with support for changes in manufacturing, transport and energy use.