THE SNP has abandoned any attempt at helping the poor in Scotland – now over a fifth of the population. The SNP Government has failed to put any meaningful effort into addressing the underlying causes of poverty and as a result has a shameful record of rising poverty across all measures.
Scottish Government data demonstrates clearly that poverty has increased substantially in Scotland since the SNP came to power, whereas previously it was in decline. Latest figures show that 20 per cent of Scotland’s population (1.03 million people each year) were living in relative poverty after housing costs in 2019-20. This is a substantial increase over the 16 per cent recorded in 2010/11.
Child poverty in particular has shot up, with 30,000 more kids in poverty in the last pre-covid year as the child poverty rate shot up from 23 to 26 per cent. Food insecurity is rising too, reaching 9 per cent of the population in 2019.
It’s the poorest areas that are doing the worst under SNP rule. Live there and you will likely die 13 years earlier than Scots living in better-off areas. Moreover you will have 25 years less of good health.
Those with drug issues or who become homeless are particularly vulnerable. Scotland has achieved infamy as the drug deaths capital of Europe, with a drug deaths rate three times higher than the rest of the UK. Similarly homeless deaths are three times higher than the rest of the UK and as with drug deaths have been steadily increasing over recent years.
In education again the poor have been betrayed. Closing the notorious poverty-related attainment gap, whereby poorer kids are more likely to fail to make it to university, was said by the SNP to be one of its major goals. But after 14 years no progress has been made, with only 26 per cent of kids from deprived areas going to university compared to the 60 per cent who succeed from the better-off areas. In some respects it is getting worse. A March 2021 Audit Scotland Report highlighted the fact that now the “gap is wider at higher levels of award.”
Where then does the SNP direct the Scottish taxpayers’ resources? Not towards to the poor but rather to help its own supporters in the wealthy bureaucratic elite that runs Scotland and amongst younger members of the middle class.
This is demonstrated by the extensive £6 billion range of election bribes offered by the SNP at the current election. You don’t help the poor by financing fee dental care for all – those on low incomes already get free dental care anyway. You don’t help poor kids by handing free bikes and laptops to all schoolchildren. You help them by improving the quality of education poorer kids receive. We used to be good at this in Scotland, education was once a key route out of poverty.
The full range of election bribes are not, in any case, affordable. Money to pay for them has been pulled together by skimping on or cutting other areas. For example by the SNP is not distributing all the Covid relief money received from the UK Treasury, £2.7 billion of which is unaccounted for, according to the Scottish Auditor General.
The SNP has also spent less on health. As the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has explained, “the NHS has been prioritised to a lesser extent than in England. As a result, Scottish health spending per person is now just 3 per cent higher than in England, versus 22 per cent at the start of the devolution”.
Lower spending on health has been accompanied by harsh cuts elsewhere. For example when the SNP came to power there were 352 rehab beds and 455 annual drug deaths but – after SNP funding cuts by 2018 the rehab beds had dropped to 70 and the annual drug deaths had risen to 1187. Other funds have been raised by brutal cuts to local government services. Cuts since 2014 have amounted to £1,544 per household and many services have worsened significantly. Further cuts are being made. For example, the SNP-run Glasgow council has announced that an extraordinary 40 sports venues or pitches, five libraries, and 11 community centres are being permanently closed.
The need for cuts to enable the SNP to afford its election bribes is derived from SNP failure on the economy. Growth is a third less than the rest of the UK and there is both lower investment and lower productivity. This not only means fewer good jobs but also lower tax revenues.
Failing to help the poor in order to provide election bribes to younger voters is not a sensible long-term strategy that has the interests of Scotland to heart.