We have increased the national health service budget this year by £280 million in revenue terms, giving a record health budget of £11.4 billion. We have also taken steps to ensure that local government’s share of the Scottish Government budget is maintained.
In addition, care and treatment services are regulated and standards are enforced by Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland and Healthcare Improvement Scotland, to ensure that people who use those services receive good-quality care.
Does the cabinet secretary agree with Pam Duncan, of Inclusion Scotland, that the cost of the council tax freeze in 2009-10 was £310 million but the new charges for care services for some of the most vulnerable people brought in £350 million? Does the cabinet secretary think that that is fair to our older and disabled people?
There is a serious point here, but before I address it I must say that I am not sure whether we are hearing yet another Labour position on the council tax freeze, after Labour went from opposing it to supporting it but offering only an additional £10 million over the Government funding. I am not quite sure whether this is an early leadership stake by Jackie Baillie, to say that Labour is actually against the council tax freeze.
Jackie Baillie knows that the Government has fully funded the council tax freeze. That ensures that council tax payers do not face the burden of higher bills, which is extremely important in these tight financial times, and that councils are not robbed of the resources that enable them to continue to provide services for the people who rely on them. In these tight financial times, we will continue to ensure that the NHS and local government budgets get the attention that they deserve, and we encourage all our statutory agencies to ensure, in the interests of fairness and equality, that people with disabilities are treated fairly.