Public Services

– in the Scottish Parliament on 9th September 2021.

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Photo of Alex Rowley Alex Rowley Labour

We can argue about the impact on public services of failed Tory austerity, the Scottish Government’s failure to workforce plan and Covid. The one thing that is absolutely clear is that many public services are in meltdown across Scotland. How can the First Minister possibly justify using Government resources and taxpayers’ money on working up proposals for an independence referendum at a time when the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament should surely be wholly focused on addressing the emergency in our public services?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

I do not think that we can argue about the impact of United Kingdom Government austerity on services the length and breadth of Scotland—it has been utterly devastating. The problem is that, unless we do something to get ourselves out of the grip of Tory Government after Tory Government, people across Scotland will suffer more.

Just this week, we have seen a national insurance increase that will punish the lowest paid in our society—[

Interruption

.] Well, we all want to see extra money for public services but raising that money in a way that punishes the poor is the bit that we do not agree with—no one should agree with it if they care about those issues. We are also about to see the UK Government make the biggest overnight cut to social security since the 1930s, when it takes away the £20 per week uplift to universal credit.

It may be something that Alex Rowley and I have to disagree on—he can explain that to his constituents. It is right that people in Scotland have the opportunity to choose a different and better future, in which we take control over social security and how we raise funds, into the Scottish Parliament, so that we do not have to stand here and—to use Alex Rowley’s phrase—argue about the impact of another Government on people the length and breadth of Scotland.