Susan Dalgety: SNP should ditch the bribes and target help at needy

At 61-and-two-thirds, I may entering my golden years, but if I was a man living in Niddrie, I may well be on my death bed.

Tuesday, 8th May 2018, 7:00 am
When men in Niddrie can expect to live only to their mid 60s, should the Government be spending money on baby boxes for all?

Startling research by NHS Lothian suggests that folk living in Edinburgh’s richest postcodes can expect to live 21 years longer than someone living in the city’s poorest neighbourhoods.

The report, submitted to the Scottish Parliament, says a man from Niddrie Mains can expect to live for around 64 years, while a man in the New Town can hope to reach 85.

This is nothing short of a national disgrace.

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Scotland is not a poor country. And, thanks to the Barnett Formula, the Scottish Government has much more cash to spend on public services, such as health, than English authorities.

Last year Scotland had just under £11,000 to spend per head of population, while England had just under £9,000.

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But as I have learned to my cost over the years, it is not always how much money you have that matters, it is how you spend it.

Take the new baby boxes, which will cost nearly £9 million a year.

They are a nice idea, but I am sceptical that anyone actually puts their baby to sleep in a cardboard box.

Once the contents have been emptied, I suspect they are more likely to be used to store nappies and toys than for wee Emily to enjoy an afternoon nap.

Now I am not that financially naive that I think £9 million a year would stop blokes in Niddrie dying before their time.

But the Scottish Government does hand out a lot of free stuff – and much of it to folk who are already well off.

Perhaps the time has come for them to reconsider their approach to public spending.

Fewer political bribes and more cash targeted at folk really in need of help would be a good start.