INDYREF: Court ruling means SNP must immediately reallocate £20 million budget

£20 million Indycash could be used to employ almost 600 extra teachers

By Bill Heaney 

The SNP-Green government must immediately reallocate the £20 million set aside for another independence referendum next year, following the Supreme Court ruling, the Scottish Conservatives have said.

The Times reported this morning that public money will still be used to promote independence, despite the verdict.

Party Leader Douglas Ross insists it would be “inexcusable” if the nationalist coalition refused to divert this funding towards other overstretched budgets.

Douglas Ross says there is “absolutely no justification” not to use this money to support public services or tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

Research from the Scottish Conservatives has highlighted how many extra frontline workers could be hired if the SNP-Green government agreed to switch the £20 million from the constitution budget to another area.

Douglas Ross says £20 million would fund over 1,000 new nurses.

The analysis shows that £20 million would fund over 1,000 new nurses, more than 650 police constables or around 600 teachers for a year.

The money, if diverted,  could also be used to help prevent crippling public-sector strikes going ahead across Scotland in the coming weeks.

Douglas Ross said: “It was utterly shameful that Nicola Sturgeon and her government ever set aside this amount of money to pursue their number one obsession of breaking up the United Kingdom.

“Nicola Sturgeon responded to the Supreme Court verdict as SNP leader rather than as First Minister. Why should taxpayers be footing the bill for her party-political campaigning when she could not be bothered to answer questions in Parliament?

“With the unequivocal ruling, there will be no referendum next year. So there is absolutely no justification for them failing to reallocate every penny of their referendum fund.

“This is millions of pounds’ worth of funding that could support families and businesses through the global cost-of-living crisis or help our NHS through a winter storm.

“It would be inexcusable if Nationalist ministers refused to divert money towards frontline services or those who need it most. We constantly hear ministers moaning about a lack of funds for Scotland’s public services, but they have always protected their referendum slush fund.

“Ministers could also avoid crippling strike action, which will cause disruption for millions and be deeply damaging for the economy, if they put this sum towards pay deals.

“These are the issues Scots want the SNP-Green government to be focused on tackling.

“Enough is enough. A majority of Scots do not want this referendum and there is no legal basis for it.

“The SNP-Green government can either continue to take their eye off the ball and divide our country all over again or they can deal with the real priorities facing Scotland – and that starts by switching this £20m to other cash-strapped budgets.”

The Times story confirms that public money will still be used to promote independence:

 The SNP could hire over 1,000 new nurses in a year with £20 million. £20 million could pay for 1,019 new nurses on a band 2 salary. (Scottish Government, 15 June 2022, link).

£20 million could pay for more than 650 police constables for a year. If the Scottish Government ditched their plans to spend £20 million on an independence referendum, they could spend the money on approximately 654 police constables. This is assuming that the constables were paid a salary on pay point scale one, which they earn once they have completed their probationary period, which is a salary of £30,574. (Police Scotland, link). 

Using the £20 million, the SNP Government could distribute laptops to over 200,000 pupils. A standard laptop from Argos, costs £99.99. This means that 200,020 pupils could receive a laptop. This was an SNP Government commitment to be fulfilled by 2026. (Argos Accessed 23 November 2022, link).

£20 million could be used to employ almost 600 extra teachers. The £20 million pounds set aside for another referendum campaign could be used instead to employ 593 extra teachers. (Scottish Government, 22 November 2022, link).

£20 million could help to tackle drug related deaths in Scotland.Only £85.4 million was allocated to Alcohol and Drugs Policy in 2022-23. £20 million would represent a 22% increase in the budget, and would help to tackle drug related death in Scotland, which is the highest in Europe. (Scottish Budget: 2022-23, 9 December 2021, linkDrug-related deaths in Scotland in 2021, 28 July 2022, link).

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