We need a strong prescription to mitigate Tory-inflicted pain - Christine Grahame
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It’s an interesting word “mitigate”, its meaning to make something bad less severe, serious, or painful. It applies as much to Tory policies as it does to my back.
Let’s consider where we are today. We have fuel and energy costs through the roof so that everything which is transported by road and rail becomes dearer. As for heating our homes, if you have not already had notice from your supplier of your likely charges, brace yourself. Most bills will rise by at least £700 a year and with the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, likely even higher. Remember too that VAT is charged on these bills so the VAT also goes up.
With petrol at the pump, remember this is not only used by motorists and commercial vehicles but also by our ambulances, with these costs added to the NHS bill. That fuel has already suffered a fuel duty levy (a tax), which is then taxed again with VAT. Tax upon a tax. Then, as from this month National Insurance goes up. More tax to the Treasury.
The hit to Scottish households including energy costs is estimated to be at least £1200 in the year. In the meantime, it cuts Universal Credit to those who badly need it. So, what is the Scottish Government doing about this? That word “mitigation” again, easing the pain. First, every penny or pound to try to protect our most vulnerable comes out of existing NHS, education, transport – you name it - budgets.
As we try to support families and children, we have now the Scottish Child Payment at £20 per week for each child under 6 in a qualifying family. There is also the Baby Box, with items needed for a quality start for newborns inside, with over 36,000 delivered in the Lothians alone since 2017. Preschool there are now 1140 hours free childcare for all 3 to 4 year olds and some 2 year olds. Add in free school meals for all from p1 to p5 and you get the flavour of our support to families. Now, free bus travel for over 60s and disabled has been extended to the under 22s.
We do not pay when we are ill because our prescriptions are free, not like the £9.35 per item paid in England, as is free personal care for older folk. These are just some of the supports in place, but it is not enough to prevent the poverty this Tory government has brought to us since it came to power in 2010.
Indeed, the result of the 2019 General Election election tells a story with Scotland electing 47 SNP MPs, six Tories, one Labour and one Lib Dem. It is a story about Scotland rejecting Westminster rule. Panadol mitigates but does not cure the pain. No more mitigation of the pain of Tory policies. I prescribe Independence, control over our economy and tackling poverty and social inequalities head on.