A&E waiting times in Scotland improved dramatically over 2015, with Scotland now consistently outperforming the rest of the UK.
94.5% of patients visiting Scotland’s core A&Es in December 2015 were seen within 4 hoursafter Scottish Government worked with frontline staff to develop and implement the ‘Six Essential Actions’ for improving A&E performance, including in staffing levels. Under the SNP there’s been a 178.0% increase in A&E consultants.
In contrast, UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been distracted by his attack on junior doctors – while English Type 1 A&E performance fell well behind Scotland.
The divide on long waits is even starker according to recent research by the BBC – with 7 times as many patients in England waiting for more than 12 hours for treatment in A&E than patients in Scotland.
Commenting, SNP MSP Dennis Robertson said:
“Scotland’s A&Es have made real progress in the last year, and that is a testament to the hard work of the record number of NHS staff up and down Scotland. And while there is still work to do, Scotland’s A&Es are now consistently the best performing A&Es in the UK
“The SNP see Scotland’s NHS as one of our nation’s most important assets and we will continue to do all we can to support our hardworking healthcare workers to provide the best possible care for patients.
“That’s why we totally reject Jeremy Hunt’s senseless attacks on hard-working NHS staff, and why our Government in Scotland will continue to increase NHS frontline investment in at least real terms for every year of the next parliament if the SNP are re-elected.”
The SNP has today called on Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith to "urgently rethink" the continued rollout of the Tories' controversial Universal Credit benefit.
Universal Credit is a new benefit which merges social security and tax credits for working age families - the rollout of the single payment scheme has been marred with set-backs, shrouded in secrecy and has led to hundreds of millions of taxpayer's money being written off.
In a written statement to the House of Commons, Iain Duncan Smith set out the next phase of the rollout stating that it "remains on track to be delivered nationally for all types of claimants from May 2016, completing in summer 2018."
Commenting, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, SNP spokesperson for Social Justice and Welfare, said:
"On the face of it Universal Credit sounds like it should work: a smooth, streamlined system to assist low income families. But just under the surface lurks many fractures and failings from set-backs and secrecy to hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayer's money written off on IT changes.
"It is clear that the Tories are simply trudging on with the rollout of Universal Credit without addressing any of the fundamental flaws or concerns about these draconian policies and I call on Iain Duncan Smith to urgently rethink these proposals.
"The Scottish people voted for an end to austerity when they voted for the SNP, they deserve the leadership they voted for not to face the welfare storm that the Tories are brewing.
"The failures of the UK Government to devolve full power over Universal Credit, means it is left to Scotland to pick up the tab for the Tories poor economic choices and shoddy governance.
"Only with full powers over welfare will Scotland be able to secure a fair and supportive welfare system that our people deserve."
NEW ANALYSIS – LABOUR TAX PLANS TO HIT THOUSANDS OF LOW INCOME WORKERS IN MIDLOTHIAN NORTH AND MUSSELBURGH
UNWORKABLE REBATE PLAN ‘NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE’
Labour’s tax hike on working people could hit the incomes of thousands of even the lowest income workers in Midlothian North and Musselburgh, new analysis has shown – as the party’s proposals continues to unravel.
Labour announced last week they want to increase the basic rate of income tax for 2.2 million people in Scotland – including 500,000 pensioners. While Labour have claimed that those on incomes between £11,000 and £20,000 could apply for a rebate, they have failed to acknowledge that many people do not claim for benefits they are entitled to.
UK Government figures show that approximately one in three people entitled to claim for certain benefits do not claim them.
An estimated one million taxpayers in Scotland earn between £11,000 and £20,000. If this average level of uptake was maintained, around 350,000 people on low incomes nationwide would miss out on Labour’s rebate - including thousands in Midlothian North and Musselburgh.
Commenting, local MSP Colin Beattie said:
“Since announcing their plans for a tax hike on low-earners, Labour have claimed that their proposed rebate would protect the poorest workers– but the fact is that Labour have no way of telling us how this scheme would work, or how they could guarantee that the rebate gets to those who need it most.
“The reality is Labour cannot guarantee that a single person in Midlothian North and Musselburgh would claim or receive this £100, but if Labour ever got into power everyone locally would have to pay more taxes.
"During the budget debate last week, we had the extraordinary spectacle of Labour’s finance spokesperson dismissing serious questions on how Labour’s proposed rebate would work as mere 'details' – now we know Labour’s plans could hit thousands of the people in Midlothian North and Musselburgh they have specifically pledged to protect.
“Last week the Resolution Foundation told us that even if Labour’s rebate plans are workable, they don’t make their planned tax hike any more progressive. The fact is Labour don’t have a clue how their plans would work or how many low-earners in Midlothian North and Musselburgh would be hit – these plans aren’t worth the back of a fag packet they were written on.
“While the SNP want to give the lowest paid workers in Midlothian North and Musselburgh a pay-rise, Labour want to give them a tax-rise – and Labour will have to answer to local workers for their regressive plans at the election in three months’ time.”
LOW PAID TO GET PAY RISE WITH SNP – INSTEAD OF TAX RISE WITH LABOUR
Colin Beattie MSP has challenged Iain Gray MSP on his decision to vote for a tax hike for 2.2 million basic rate taxpayers across Scotland – including almost half a million pensioners.
The SNP budget was debated by the Scottish Parliament this week and, in contrast to Labour plans, will deliver a pay rise for up to 51,400 low paid workers and no rise in Income Tax or Council Tax bills.
The draft Budget was debated by the Scottish Parliament last week – with key pledges including a £500m rise in the NHS budget, the protection of the teacher-pupil ratio and the protection of the police budget.
Commenting, Mr Beattie said:
“This week Iain Gray chose to vote for a complicated, unfair and unworkable tax hike that would hit low and middle-income earners hardest – rather than backing a pay rise for 51,400 low paid workers.
“I voted for an SNP budget that will help people on low incomes by rolling out the living wage across the social care sector, freezing the council tax and supporting low paid public sector workers – while Labour voted to increase how much tax they pay.
“Iain Gray wants to shift the burden of Tory austerity onto working people across the country – forcing people such as all newly-qualified nurses, teachers and police officers to effectively take a pay cut.
“I will continue to stand up for low paid workers in Musselburgh and East Lothian and fight the impact of Tory austerity – I will never ask ordinary workers to pay for Tory cuts.”
SNP READY TO BUILD ON RECORD ON EDUCATION
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has today welcomed the announcement of Scottish Government funding to replace Wallyford Primary School in East Lothian.
This new investment comes as part of a £230 million scheme to build 19 new schools across the whole of Scotland – benefitting 6,500 pupils and taking the overall number of schools being delivered by the Scottish Government’s ‘Schools for the Future’ programme to 112.
Commenting, Colin said:
“Boosting educational standards is a key priority of the SNP in government – and I am delighted that this new investment will see Wallyford Primary School in East Lothian replaced.
“This investment won’t just ensure our children have the right physical environment to learn in, but will also create jobs in construction in Wallyford and help boost the local economy.
“Since 2007, the SNP in government has a strong track record in delivering for schools in East Lothian and Midlothian and this new investment is testament to our commitment to continue delivering on the progress we have made so far.
“With 100 days to go until the election, the SNP locally and nationally will be campaigning hard on our positive message – and will be putting our ambitious plans for education front and centre of our campaign to re-elect Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister and an SNP government with a track record of delivering for Midlothian North and Musselburgh.”
Labour’s tax hike on working people has faced fresh criticism today – after confirmation that it would cost thousands of public sector workers the entirety of their additional pay rise for the year.
In 2015/16, the Scottish Government gave public sector workers earning below £21,000 a minimum pay rise of £300 – for 2016/17 this will be increased by £100 to £400 and the threshold increased to £22,000, meaning 59,000 workers are eligible.
Under Labour’s regressive plans announced yesterday, a worker earning £21,000 would see the entirety of the increase in the pay rise wiped out.
Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell said:
“We already knew that Labour’s tax hike on workers would hit low earners the hardest and shift the burden of austerity onto working people – now it’s clear that their plans would completely wipe out the additional pay rises of thousands of public sector workers in Scotland.
“59,000 public sector workers in Scotland – including 48,000 NHS staff – are in line for an additional pay boost under the SNP’s plans. The idea that Labour want to completely wipe out this pay rise for thousands of people in order to make Scottish workers pay for Tory austerity is completely unacceptable.
“The more we hear about Labour’s cynical, unfair and unworkable tax grab – the quicker it falls apart in front of our eyes. This plan clearly isn’t worth the back of a fag packet it was written on.
“The difference between the SNP and Labour is that we want to give the lowest paid a pay rise, while Labour want to give them a tax rise – and Kezia Dugdale will have to answer for these regressive plans at the Scottish Parliament elections in just three months’ time.”