Raising the standard

Paying for better services

The challenge

Better public services need to be paid for. Political parties which do not back well-meaning rhetoric with resources cannot be taken seriously.

Our solutions

Many of the policies set out in this manifesto would require no additional money, could be paid for from within existing budgets, or are dependent on resources becoming available in the future from changed budget priorities and from additional money from the annual UK budget settlement. Ihis is true for all of the measures outlined in this manifesto, except for some of those in the education and health chapters.

There is no doubt that if we are to have better education and health services in Scotland, we shall have to find additional resources. Under the present Labour Government in Westminster there is no cash bonanza for public services in Scotland. Spending on Scotland's schools has been cut by over 200 million in real terms since Labour came to power; with cuts in 29 out of 32 education authorities. Total real spending in Scotland in 2001/02 will be little changed from the level in 1994/95, and the real annual increase in the budget for the National Health Service will be about the same as under the Conservatives.

Extra money for health and education

Under our plans for improving standards in education and health, we envisage increasing budgets for these services from the first full budgeting year (2000/01).

For health, we would boost the planned budget by around 80m in 2000/01, and by more than 1OOm per year for each successive year of the first Scottish Parliament.

For education, we would boost the planned budget by around 170m in 2000/01, and by some 170m for each successive year of the first Scottish Parliament until 2003/04.

Finding the funds

In order to find the funds to increase spending on Education and the National Health Service,

we will:

Use of tax varying powers

Scottish Liberal Democrats are not afraid of using the tax varying powers of the Scottish Parliament if that proves to be necessary. If we want first class public services, then we must be willing to pay for them. But our fundamental commitment is to better services, not higher taxes. If we can fund the improvements to public services which we seek without recourse to higher taxes, then so much the better

In any case, we do not envisage that the plans which we have set out in the chapters above would require recourse to any more than 1p of the tax varying powers within the period of the first Scottish Parliament.

Community Partnership Trusts

We will seek to invest in capital projects for better hospitals, schools, and house building programmes; water supply infrastructure; and public transport schemes by seeking to establish Community Partnership Trusts to replace the expensive and inefficient Private Finance Initiative agreements. We need a private public partnership which leads to more cost effective public sector investment strategy. We will also seek the appropriate alteration to the current unnecessary restrictive Treasury rules regarding investment. It is vital that the public retain the right to own the assets at the contract period. We will also separate out the maintenance and service contracts and subject them to "Best Value" criteria.

Copyright ©1999 Scottish Liberal Democrats