SNP leadership favourites will each cost the taxpayer over £1.6 billion

Splash the cash Forbes says she’ll increase childcare payments to £40, and pay £15 an hour for social care workers …

By Bill Heaney

Pledges made by Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes during the SNP’s leadership contest will each cost the taxpayer a minimum of over £1.6 billion each per year, a Scottish Conservative analysis can reveal today.

The third candidate, Ash Regan, is keeping both her mouth and her purse firmly shut about what she would do if given the keys to Bute House on Monday.

In total, the extra spending commitments outlined by the current SNP finance secretary Kate Forbes would saddle the public purse with a bill for nearly £2.9 billion, while health secretary Humza Yousaf’s would cost over £1.6 billion.

On top of the specific pledges, the continued obsession with independence means the two leadership front-runners are willing to ‘dangle’ the threat of £23 billion worth of spending cuts and tax rises over the Scottish public.

During the bitter contest, Kate Forbes has pledged to deliver £15 an hour for social care wages- despite previously rejecting this plan as Finance Secretary- at a cost of £1.8 billion.

Kate Forbes has also indicated that she would wish to increase the Scottish Child Payment from £25 a week to £40, which Scottish Conservative research found would cost £265 million. Humza Yousaf has committed to increasing it by £5 a week, meaning he will need to find an extra £88 million to fund that promise.

Two key pledges made by Humza Yousaf- delivering universal childcare for one and two-year-olds- and increasing funding for the Scottish National Investment Bank would cost more than £1 billion per year.

Shadow business minister Jamie Halcro Johnston says that the public will be “alarmed” as to how this extra spending would be delivered, given the SNP’s history of “wasting” taxpayers money.

Jamie Halcro Johnston highlighted the “reckless” spending from the SNP Government that Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes were at the heart of including almost £350 million on ferries that have still set sail, over £50 million on Rangers failed prosecutions and a further £50 million on BiFab.

Scottish Conservative shadow business minister Jamie Halcro Johnston MSP, said: “This analysis reveals the eye-watering costs of the pledges made by Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes when they can’t even keep on top of their finances now.

“Their respective spending commitments would each cost the taxpayer over £1.5 billion each.

“While SNP members might be willing to turn a blind eye as to how these will be met, the wider public will be alarmed. Both Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes have been at the heart of a SNP Government that have wasted billions of taxpayers’ money already.

SNP errors which saw £300 million squandered on ferries that are yet to set sail and a failed  prosecution against Rangers FC.

From blowing over £300 million on ferries that are yet to set sail, the failed Rangers prosecution scandal, SNP ministers have continually been reckless with the public purse.

“That is before we even get into their continued obsession with independence. Kate Forbes wants to hold a divisive referendum within three months of a General Election and Humza Yousaf has promised to be a first activist out on the doors. The pair of them are all too happy to dangle the costs of what independence would mean in either deep spending cuts or tax rises over the public.

“This damning research shows that whoever emerges victorious tomorrow Scotland loses, as the candidates are forced to make spending cuts across the board to fulfil their campaign pledges.”

Humza Yousaf pledged to increase funding for the Scottish National Investment Bank to £10 billion. The current level of promised funding is £2 billion until 2030 but Yousaf has promised to increase this to £10 billion – and this would be done through asking the UK Government for increased borrowing powers. (The Times, 28 February 2023, link).

Cost: £10 billion/10 = £1 billion per financial year. 

Humza Yousaf promised universal childcare for one and two-year-olds as First Minister. Yousaf promised: ‘In my first budget as Scotland’s First Minister I will accelerate the roll out of free early years education for one and two year olds in Scotland. Offering high quality childcare for 22 hours a week, all year round – for all children.’ (Daily Record, 28 February 2023, link).

Cost: £243 million. Source: Consequentials from recent UK Government announcement.   

Humza Yousaf would increase the Scottish Child Payment by £5. Humza Yousaf stated: ‘I would look to see if we could increase it from £25 to £30 in the first budget.’(STV Debate, 46:00 – 46:15, link). 

Cost: £442.1 million x 1.2 = £530.5 million – £442.1 million = £88 million. Source: (Scottish Budget 2023-24, 15 December 2022, link).

Humza Yousaf promised to deliver £12 an hour wage for social care workers and delay the passage of the National Care Service Bill. Yousaf said: ‘Within government I argued for adult social care pay to increase to £12 an hour as a step on the journey towards £15. That funding was not provided. In my first budget I will deliver £12 an hour for adult care.’ (The Times, 6 March 2023, link).

Cost: John Swinney previously told Holyrood’s Finance committee that the cost of uplifting the hourly wage of social care workers to £11.90 was £250 million. Therefore, a £1.10 uplift from the current £10.90 wage would cost around £275 million. (Letter from John Swinney, 19 January 2023, link)

Kate Forbes – total cost: £2.885 billion 

Kate Forbes has proposed an increase to carers wages to £15 per hour at a cost of £1.8 billion. Forbes said: ‘I would propose a plan to raise minimum pay to £15 per hour for carers within a timescale to be negotiated with the care sector and the unions, and to other changes necessary to make social care a more worthwhile and rewarding career.’ (The Herald, 1 March 2023, link).

Cost: £1.8 billion. Kate Forbes previously told Holyrood this would be the cost (Official report, 9 December 2021, link).

Kate Forbes was open to increasing the Scottish Child Payment to £40.  When asked if she would commit raising the Scottish Child Payment from £25 to at least £40 a week, Forbes responded: ‘I’m certainly open to it.’ (Sky News, 13 March 2023, link). (27 minutes, 29 seconds). 

Cost: £442.1 million x 1.6 = £707.4 million – £442.1 million = £265 million. Source: (Scottish Budget 2023-24, 15 December 2022, link).

Kate Forbes said that independence will be put ‘front and centre’ in the 2024 election and called for a referendum to be held within three months of that election. Forbes told the audience at the first hustings event of the SNP leadership contest: ‘In 2024, at the next Westminster election, we will put independence front and centre.’ She added: ‘And in that election, we will fight for the right to hold a referendum within three months of that election.’ (SNP Hustings in Cumbernauld, 1 March 2023, link).

Cost: £20 million. Kate Forbes previously set out the cost of this referendum at £20 million. (Resource Spending Review, 31 May 2022, link)

Kate Forbes unveiled an £800 million cost-of-living plan. She said the plan could help to cut household energy bills and ease the cost-of-living crisis. She is proposing to use public funds generated by leasing rights for offshore wind development to reduce energy bills for Scots. However, it does not appear that this plan has been set out in detail since (The Herald, 26 February 2023, link).

Cost: £800 million. (The Herald, 26 February 2023, link).

One comment

  1. Jeepers after reading this one could be forgiven for thanking the good Lord for the utter benevolence of the Tories.

    Brexit, the collapsing UK economy, hyper inflation, falling living standards, highest taxation in one hundred and fifty years, enormous electricity and gas prices in a country endowed with energy, proposals to increase pension age to sixty eight and seventy thereafter, thank the Lord indeed for the Tories.

    And just wait till we get the NHS Privatisation recently promoted by Sir Keir Starmer. Heaven, just pure heaven!

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