Scotland ‘lags behind UK in NHS and education’

SCOTLAND has failed to keep pace with spending increases south of the Border in the key areas of health and education, controlled by Holyrood, new research today shows.

Alex Johnstone: Important spending areas have suffered. Picture: Dan Phillips

Analysis published by the Fiscal Affairs Scotland (FAS) think-tank showed that funding for education and training has gone down 2 per cent between 2009-10 and 2013-14, while rising 3 per cent across the UK.

Health spending has gone up 7 per cent in Scotland, while going up by 11 per cent south of the Border, said the report, based on the recent Government Expenditure and Revenues in Scotland (GERS) data.

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“Relative to the UK, Scotland has done better in all areas of spend [over which it has control], with two exceptions, health and education and training,” the FAS report states.

Almost a third of the Scottish Government’s £30 billion budget goes on health. Education spending accounts for about £7.6bn.

The news comes at a time of chronic pressure on hospital A&E departments, while a recent report found college places have fallen by about third – more than 100,000 – in recent years.

North-east Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: “These are spending choices the SNP has made which have hit two of the most important areas of the public sector.”

Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume said: “These are devolved matters and SNP ministers have no-one to blame but themselves.”

But a spokesman for John Swinney said the GERS figures show health spending per head in Scotland was 7 per cent higher than across the UK as a whole, while spending on the NHS has also been protected,

He added: “Education spending has increased significantly during the SNP’s time in office.”

Average spending per pupil in Scotland is now £6,418, he said, which is higher than ­England.