SNP MSP COLIN BEATTIE: FUNDS SPENT PROTECTING SCOTS FROM TORIES MEANS LESS MONEY AVAILABLE TO FIGHT COST OF LIVING CRISIS
The SNP Scottish Government had to spend £10.1 million in Midlothian and £11.7 million in East Lothian to mitigate vindictive Tory UK Government policies in Scotland this financial year, meaning there is less money available to support hard-pressed Scots families through the deepening Tory cost of living crisis.
Across Scotland as a whole, the range of Scottish Government spending commitments to counter negligent Westminster policies is now an astronomical £594 million a year. And the figures do not include almost £3.5billion of social security benefits which, while devolved, are needed to support and supplement insufficient welfare benefits paid by the Tory UK Government.
The figures also do not include the £290m announcement by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes last week to give hard-pressed households £150 each.
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“To protect the people of Midlothian and East Lothian, the SNP Government is having to commit an estimated £21.8 million- a substantial amount from its restricted budget - to mitigate vindictive and immoral Tory policies inflicted on our community.
“If these Tory policies - which bring misery to the country’s most vulnerable - did not exist, then it would free up Scottish Government cash to spend the equivalent of an extra £109 for every man, woman and child in Midlothian and East Lothian to deal with the spiralling cost of living.
“Devolution was meant to provide Scotland with the opportunity to do things differently but, with Westminster holding the key economic levers like borrowing, the Scottish Government is severely constrained. That opportunity is even further restricted if it is continually having to commit eye-watering amounts simply to right the wrongs of the Tories’ underhand austerity agenda at Westminster which is targeted at ordinary people and families.
“It says something about their priorities that, while they cut funding to help ordinary people, they pursue a tax cut for banks that will benefit them by £4bn at the expense of public spending.
“Scotland’s opposition parties are constantly demanding the Scottish Government spends its limited budget on opposition priorities without ever identifying where the money is coming from. Well, this is many millions of pounds that could be diverted to these areas if it was not being used to protect Scots from the worst elements of Westminster control.
“And it’s not just the Tories to blame. Labour and the LibDems, through their support for Westminster control, perpetuate vindictive Tory governance on the people of Scotland. In 2014 those parties promised that Westminster would be better at tackling those problems for Scotland. The sad fact is that those promises of Westminster support were empty.
“Almost £600million is a vast amount. If the Tories at Westminster would only properly fund the areas in which the SNP Scottish Government must spend to mitigate and protect people, jobs and businesses, this cash could be redirected to make transformational changes in other areas of Scottish life.
“Sadly, the direction of travel of this Westminster Government means things will only get worse. It is why the people of Scotland will have the opportunity to choose a different path with a post-pandemic independence referendum once the crisis has passed.”