By Bill Heaney
Scots are trapped in a cycle of rising taxes and declining services because of the SNP’s financial mismanagement, Scottish Labour has warned today.
SNP conference kicked off on Sunday, but there is little on the agenda about what the Scottish Government should do to address the black hole in public finances in West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute and the economic misery many local people are facing.
Scottish Labour has blamed government waste and economic mismanagement under the SNP for the sorry state of Scotland’s finances.
Since the SNP government gained income tax powers, low growth and pay have cost the public purse millions in tax. The IFS has pointed out that this has effectively wiped out the funding raised by the SNP’s income tax rises.
Of the dwindling budget available to them, the SNP government has wasted eye-watering sums. Their habit of rampant waste and overspending includes the huge sums wasted on delayed discharge, botched infrastructure projects such as the now-infamous ferries, and the frivolous use of government credit cards.
In an attempt to plug the gaps in its budget, the SNP government is proposing further hikes to both Income Tax and Council Tax – a move Scottish Labour has criticised during a cost of living crisis.
Scottish Labour Finance spokesperson Michael Marra, right, said “The SNP’s disastrous record of incompetence, mismanagement and waste has left public finances in chaos and public services at breaking point.
“The low growth, low wage economy the SNP has built is starving the public purse of funding, while their reckless financial mismanagement is burning a hole in the money we do have.
“For too long we have been trapped in a cycle of rising taxes and declining services – but Scots are sick of footing the bill for SNP failure. “We need change, and at every level of government Labour will be focused on strengthening our economy, rebuilding public services and delivering good value for taxpayers.”
- IFS (January 2023): “slow growth in the underlying tax base is forecast to more than offset the additional revenues from Scotland’s higher tax rates this year.”
- £1.1 billion has been wasted on delayed discharge since then-Health Secretary Shona Robison promised to end the practice:
|Financial Year||Since Shona Robison’s promise|
|Number of bed days lost||Cost to NHS|
- 2020/21, 2021/22, 2022/23 and 2023/24 average daily costs were calculated by applying a real terms calculator to the most recent estimated average daily bed cost (£262 in 2019-20).
- Source: Scottish Labour analysis of PHS statistics https://www.publichealthscotland.scot/publications/delayed-discharges-in-nhsscotland-monthly/delayed-discharges-in-nhsscotland-monthly-figures-for-july-2023#section-1
- The cost of the two ferries has risen from £97 million to around £351 million – with some warning that it could hit £400 million.
- The Scottish Government was criticised for its credit card spend.
- SNP conference agenda: https://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/www.snp.org/uploads/2023/07/2023_Annual_National_Conference_Final_Agenda.pdf
- Labour has pledged to deliver the fastest growth in the G7 as part of its mission on economic growth; Scottish Labour has established an Independent Advisory Board on Economic Growth to inform devolved policy.