Page last updated at 23:55 GMT, Thursday, 15 October 2009 00:55 UK

Swinney announces charity relief

John Swinney
Mr Swinney pledged to steer Scotland to economic recovery

Small charities in Scotland hit by the recession will continue to be exempt from water and sewerage charges next year, the SNP conference has heard.

Finance Secretary John Swinney told delegates the scheme will continue until 2015.

It also covers bodies such as churches and voluntary groups.

Mr Swinney went on to say the SNP, in government, was leading the way to help Scotland recover strongly from the global financial crisis.

He said 95% of government suppliers were now being paid within 10 days, helping them with the pressures of the downturn.

Scottish ministers will continue to ensure all government activity is geared towards supporting economic recovery through real action
John Swinney
Finance secretary

This, the finance secretary told delegates in Inverness, was an increase from 46% in October 2008.

Mr Swinney said the income level to qualify for exemption for water charges would also increase in April next year from £50,000 to £60,000, and rise £1,500 per year after that.

He said: "Scottish ministers will continue to ensure all government activity is geared towards supporting economic recovery through real action."

Mr Swinney again called on the UK Treasury to speed up capital spending for Scotland, to aid economic recovery.

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill is also to address the conference on Friday.

'Scottish recovery'

Speaking ahead of the two keynote speeches, Bruce Crawford, minister for parliamentary business, said: "Over the last 18 months, the Scottish government has faced the challenges of Labour's recession and shown that we've got what it takes to drive Scotland forward and to get Scotland working.

"Throughout this recession, the SNP has acted quickly to put Scottish recovery and protecting hard-working Scots at the heart of all our decisions."

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond took part in a live BBC webcast at 1115 BST.

BBC Scotland political editor Brian Taylor put questions to him which had been sent in by BBC viewers, readers and listeners.



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