SO THE Westminster Spring Budget is upon us, and unsurprisingly there was little from the austerity-minded Tories to put joy into the hearts of people up and down the country.

The independent think tank the Resolution Foundation reported earlier this month this Government’s tax and social security policies would “drive the biggest increase in inequality since Thatcher” – in my entire political career I have rarely heard more damning words.

There was nothing to address rising inflation and slowing wage growth, two factors that will squeeze the purses and wallets of regular people. Further, the Chancellor pronounced that Scotland would be getting £350 million of additional funding; that pales drastically into comparison with Scotland’s budget facing a real terms cut of £2.9 billion following a decade of a Tory Government. The Tories are happy to break their manifesto promises in raising National Insurance contributions for the self-employed, so why should we listen to anything else they have to say?

This week past was Scottish Apprentice Week, and I was delighted to visit the premises of enjoyleisure at Musselburgh Sports Centre. enjoyleisure manages and delivers leisure services, on behalf of East Lothian Council, at a variety of locations across the county. I took the opportunity to meet with apprentices, as well as regular staff, and it’s clear those apprentices are receiving a high calibre of training and workplace experience.

The annual number of apprenticeships has almost doubled in 10 years in East Lothian; this is great news, as these schemes are a highly valuable way of giving young people skills that they can take forward in their working life. I wish the apprentices and staff at enjoyleisure all the best.

Finally, the Scottish Government recently announced an initiative to ensure everyone is claiming the benefits they’re entitled to. Make sure you don’t miss out by calling the freephone helpline on 0800 085 7145.