​Who needs a Grinch when we have a Robison? - Sue Webber

​We know the Green Party calls the shots in the SNP Scottish Government, but finance secretary Shona Robison should have gone the whole hog and painted her face green before delivering a pre-Christmas budget The Grinch would have been proud of.
How the Grinch stole ChristmasHow the Grinch stole Christmas
How the Grinch stole Christmas

​She certainly stole Christmas from thousands of workers on modest earnings now facing higher tax bills, council staff waiting to hear which services will go, school leavers whose chosen college or university courses might not exist, and businesses denied the same tax breaks as their English counterparts ─ and for which the SNP received the cash.

For all the hot air about business friendliness and an entrepreneurial economy, Scotland is a country which punishes aspiration, even in the public sector. Everyone earning more than £28,000 will pay more income tax than in England, yet public spending is £2000 a head higher with no visibly better results.

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As always, the SNP forgets its taxpayers’ money, not theirs and hard-working people have a right to expect that they get something back for the extra cash they are forced to surrender in higher tax.

Even though the real-terms NHS budget will increase, there is nothing in the SNP’s miserable programme which gives even the vaguest hope the service will actually improve, or any direction to health boards about priorities.

Most of the NHS money will simply disappear thanks to salary deals with the health unions which seemed primarily designed to catch out the UK Government. Yes, but doctors and nurses deserve more money, I hear you say, but those pay rises will be swallowed by those higher taxes, while the workplace pressures they face every day go unrelieved. They have been played for fools by an SNP government which gives with one hand and snatches back with the other.

It’s the same for teachers. They won a 14.6 per cent deal from the SNP, but every one of them will pay more income tax than in England, and heads and their deputes will be thumped by the new advanced rate.

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Ms Robison made a lame joke about MSPs not being affected, but no wonder she kept quiet about the leaders in every school expected to turn round an education system in crisis. Meanwhile Lifelong Learning will lose £24m and Skills Development Scotland over £4m.

The Labour Party is no better, planning intends a slaughter of private schools and create an immediate crisis in Edinburgh’s state sector.

Education standards are higher in England, people on hospital waiting lists must travel south for treatment, and for what? Just so the SNP can spend more and more money on the disincentive of welfare payments while slashing £196m from the funds for building decent homes for families on lower incomes.

Even putting up the Scottish Child Payment to £26.70 a week isn’t quite what it seems when funding for Improvement, Attainment and Wellbeing will be cut by £27m next year and the care experience Whole Family Wellbeing fund by over £11m. So much for The Promise to our society’s most vulnerable.

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The Grinch says get in line for an affordable home, for a GP appointment, for an NHS dentist, for a public sector job or a hand-out. Welcome to Scotland where the only aspiration is what the SNP allows. Welcome to East Germany without the Trabant cars.

Sue Webber is a Scottish Conservative Lothian MSP

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