THERE have been some important events at Westminster since my last column in the Barrhead News.

Most significant of all was the recent Budget announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond.

And this Budget was good news for East Renfrewshire, Scotland and the United Kingdom.

Optimistic but realistic, as well as honest about the challenges that lie ahead, the Chancellor set out a range of measures designed to boost local economies and put more money into the pockets of every worker in the country.

A total of 3.3 million more jobs since 2010 has given us higher employment in every region of the UK, with wages growing at the fastest pace in nearly a decade.

By tackling the deficit and our country’s borrowing, we are determined not to go back to the days of Labour’s uncontrolled spending, which would leave huge debts for our children and grandchildren to repay.

The Chancellor announced an income tax cut of £132 for every basic rate taxpayer.

He also confirmed a freeze on fuel duty, which will save the average driver around £100.

Then there is the increase in the national living wage, which means a pay rise for full-time workers amounting to £690. We’ve also frozen the cost of a pint.

This is real help with the cost of living.

Many constituents contacted me before the Budget to ask for the introduction of an ‘Amazon Tax,’ so I was pleased to see the Chancellor introduce a new measure targeted at online retail giants to help level the playing field with high street shops.

Universal Credit was also a key concern and, having spent months working alongside colleagues and organisations such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to campaign for increases in the work allowance part of the new benefit, I was delighted by the announcement of a £2.7billion investment which will see 2.4 million low-income families and people on disabilities left £630 better off.

In addition, the UK Government will invest £20.5bn more into the NHS in England. This means the Scottish Government will receive around £2bn over the next five years – and every single penny needs to be invested in Scotland’s NHS.

Last year, the SNP cut the health budget in Scotland. That is unacceptable and there’s no excuse for it to happen again. The money is there if they choose to give our NHS the priority it deserves.

Scottish Conservative MPs also fought for, and secured, support for key industries, such as oil and gas, fishing and whisky.

Our phenomenal local start-up companies and innovators will also benefit from a range of measures designed to back the technologies of tomorrow.

In December, the Scottish Government will announce their Budget. Will they follow the UK Government’s lead by supporting jobs, boosting our high streets, growing the economy and using the additional £950m at their disposal to back hard-working families, invest in productivity-boosting sectors and support our communities?

Or will they once again hike up taxes for working families and pensioners, seeing Scotland’s economy continue to lag behind the rest of the UK?

This is an opportunity for the Scottish Government to end their obsession with a second Independence referendum and put the people of East Renfrewshire first.

They must take it.