Liberal Democrats call on Scottish Government to abolish National Care Service to close spending gap

The Scottish Government under SNP power has “wasted” public money, both the Scottish Liberal Democrats and Scottish Labour leaders have said.

Finance secretary Kate Forbes outlined the Scottish Government's Spending Review on Tuesday.

Ms Forbes told MSPs Scotland was facing an “unprecedented cost-of-living crisis” and claimed inflation had limited the Government’s funding increases.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) warned of an estimated £3.5 billion funding gap by 2026/27.

Anas Sarwar MSP, leader of the Scottish Labour Party and Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats met pupils and staff at the NuVu Innovation School at Kelvinside Academy, Glasgow to discuss the future of Scotland’s education system (Photo: Robert Perry).

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Ms Forbes said the public sector would need to reform to become more efficient as she said reforms would focus on areas including digitalisation, the public sector estate and improving public procurement.

During a visit to independent school Kelvinside Academy in Glasgow, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said the ferry projects was a “major example” of money wasted by the Scottish Government as he called for the Government to introduce a “comprehensive public spending review”.

Mr Sarwar said: “I would not like to see cuts to public service. Instead, they need to stop Government waste, they need to spend money better and they need to grow Scotland’s economy.”

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Also attending the school visit, Alex Cole-Hamilton said the issues with reduced train services “comes down to money” as he claimed there was a “yawning gulf” in public sector finance.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats leader said: “We need to abandon things like the National Care Service, which is going to cost millions of pounds in social care re-organisation. We also need to abandon or put on hold the outreach of new Scottish embassies, which is actually a vanity exercise to further independence and funnel that money into meaningful public sector pay increases.”

Mr Cole-Hamilton said projects such as ScotWind should not have been sold “at a pittance” and future offers should be handled with market knowledge as there is “massive potential for cash generation there”.

He said it was not for him to negotiate for union Aslef, but described the rail service as a “national embarrassment” which landed “squarely at the feet of the Scottish Government.”

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Mr Cole-Hamilton said “an urgent cash injection into the rail network” was needed to ensure trains run later to enable greater safety.

Asked if Aslef should accept 4.2 per cent pay offer, Mr Sarwar said it was a “matter for the union”. But he said more should be done to enhance replacement bus services and attract and train more drivers.

The Scottish Labour leader said: "What we’re talking about is people’s ability to get to and from work, women feeling safe and secure, particularly late at night, and more of them being forced to take more complicated routes back home and that’s not acceptable.”

Mr Sawar said ministers should hand back their “ministerial chauffeurs” until the issue is resolved.

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Asked if he takes a car to and from work, Mr Sarwar said: “I do, but I don’t have a Government sponsored chauffeur and everything I do is public knowledge in terms of the expenses I claim.

"The reason I take a car over rail often is because of well-documented reasons around security, but the principle of getting more people on rail is one I absolutely support.”

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