Scottish election 2021: Tories claim SNP 'wasted' £4.5bn of taxpayer cash while in power

Douglas Ross has launched an excoriating attack on the SNP’s financial record in government, claiming the party has cost taxpayers £4.5 billion since it came to power in 2007.

Releasing a dossier of what the Scottish Conservative leader labelled “SNP waste”, Mr Ross said the figure “vanished into a black hole of SNP incompetence”.

Among the ‘waste’ is £147 million caused by delays to the delivery of the new Sick Kids hospital in Edinburgh, £24m on the malicious prosecution of Rangers administrators and £47m on BiFab.

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The Scottish Conservatives have claimed £4.5bn has been wasted by the SNP during their time in power.

The document also claims that waste from the SNP government has steadily risen while the party has been in power.

In 2007/08 during the party’s first minority government, the figure sits at just over £52m, with that rising to £99m for the first year of the SNP majority government in 2011 and to £840m in 2019/20 under Nicola Sturgeon.

Mr Ross said: “The SNP have wasted a shocking amount of taxpayers’ money over their 14 years failing Scotland.

“They’ve lurched from scandal to scandal, squandering billions in the process through sheer incompetence.

“This vast sum could have been spent on improving our schools, hospitals and public services. Instead, it vanished into a black hole of SNP incompetence. The amount they throw away escalates with every new SNP government.”

The MP for Moray said it was a focus on independence and not on Scotland that had caused this “wasted billions”.

Mr Ross said: “The reckless way they waste cash is visible all over Scotland – delays to the Sick Kids in Edinburgh, water problems at the QEUH [Queen Elizabeth University Hospital] in Glasgow, botched ferry-building at Ferguson Marine in Inverclyde, a bad deal at BiFab in Fife, hold ups to the AWPR [Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route] in the North East, and a CAP IT system that plagued rural areas.

“The SNP have not only wasted billions, they’ve wasted the last 14 years by putting independence first and everything else last.

“If the SNP win a majority, they will waste the next Scottish Parliament focussed on getting another referendum, instead of rebuilding Scotland.”

Responding to the claims, an SNP spokesperson said: "This is utter nonsense from the Tories who are desperately trying to hide from the stench of sleaze surrounding their own party and the failures of their Holyrood campaign.

"We'll take no lessons on wasting money from a party who have squandered billions in Covid contracts when handing them out to their closest friends and Tory donors. Billions have been wasted on PPE contracts and private sector Test and Trace deals that could have been spent supporting people."

Keith Brown, the SNP depute leader, demanded Mr Ross broke his “deafening silence” on the lobbying scandal, which has involved Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, health secretary Matt Hancock and former prime minister David Cameron, describing it as “utterly shameful”.

He said: "Douglas Ross must finally break his deafening silence on the growing Tory sleaze scandal engulfing Westminster, condemn these seemingly dodgy deals and back calls for a full independent enquiry.

"The public have a right to know why Tory donors and friends have been handed contracts, special access, tax breaks and peerages by the Tory government, with the cost to the public purse extending to at least millions of pounds. It absolutely stinks.”

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