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National Health Service (Barnett Consequentials)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 21st June 2018.

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The First Minister:

I will make a couple of quick points. First, I welcome the fact that the UK Government is now talking about using tax rises to fund the NHS. It is just a pity that, when the Scottish Government increased taxes for those who can afford to pay to fund increases for our health service, the Scottish Conservatives opposed that tooth and nail and submitted tax proposals that would have taken £550 million out of the Scottish budget, which is equivalent to 12,000 nurses.

Secondly, we do not yet know that any consequentials will represent a net increase. We have some experience on that. For example, last year, when there was the promise of consequentials of £33 million from winter funding, we ended up receiving just £8.4 million of that because of the way in which the commitment was funded. Until we know from the UK Government how it intends to fund the commitment, we will not know how much there will be for the Scottish Government in consequentials. We know that none of the money will come from a Brexit dividend, because there is no such thing. However, until we know where it will come from and know that it will not involve cuts in other devolved areas, we will not know the final amount. Therefore the sooner we get that information, the better—and we will continue to press the UK Government for it.