“Money makes the world go round” so sang Liza Minnelli. She could have added and the money goes round and round. I earn, I spend and the money I spend becomes somebody else’s earnings and they spend and so it goes on.
Much has been said and written recently about public finances and what money is spent in Scotland and by whom. It’s quite clear that there is less money to go around these days, partly due to financial mismanagement by consecutive UK Government’s, banks playing fast and loose with our money and multinationals avoiding paying tax. This has had a knock on effect for Scotland and the Scottish Government as our budget is determined by HM Treasury. The Block Grant, the money Scotland receives to run devolved subject matters, has been cut. According to the House of Commons Library the block grant in 2014/15 is about 7% lower in real terms than it was in 2010/11, on a like-for-like basis. This means there is less money for John Swinney, Finance Secretary, to allocate.
With the UK Government continuing to pursue its failed policy of austerity it will mean less money coming to Scotland. The Scottish Government can’t spend money they don’t have and funding from UK government has been reduced.
Nevertheless, the Scottish Government continue to embark on a radical reform to the way social care is paid for, which is why we will go further than the annual investment of £130 million in the Integration and Delayed Discharge Funds and are committing an additional £250 million of support from the health service to support health and social care partnerships. This will make a real difference to people’s health and wellbeing.
Alongside this, we have seen the continuation of free prescriptions and free eye tests, the freezing of the council tax which has been fully funded, free concessionary travel, putting 1,000 extra police officers in our communities and also investing record levels in our NHS.
These policies highlight what can be achieved in Scotland but imagine what could be achieved if Scotland had further economic and fiscal powers. We await the Scotland Bill delivering some of these powers but it’s a long way off from delivering the powerhouse Scottish Parliament we require.