Do you think our public services are funded properly?

Scotland’s public services
Our public services are vital and are a benchmark for any developed country. High quality services will be delivered only if those employed in the public sector are valued and respected.

We want our people to be healthy but to know that if we do get ill, care and treatment will be free at the point of delivery. We want to attack crime by tackling the causes as well as the symptoms. And we want education and continued learning to be an important and enjoyable experience for our youngest generations. If they are our future, shouldn’t we do all we can to ensure they are healthy, educated, and safe on our streets?

For too long our public sector has been neglected. The needs of services, staff, and infrastructure have been at best mismanaged and at worst ignored by successive Tory, Labour, and now Labour-LibDem coalition policies. The SNP will restore quality, efficiency, and responsiveness to our public services by adhering to five key principles.

First, we will ensure public services should be just that — public. Government money intended to provide public services must do just that and should not be wasted through inefficiency or be taken out of the system to pay excessive private profit. Second, the needs of those using public services must come first. Third, those delivering public services must be treated with respect. Fourth, public services should be under the control of the communities who use them. Fifth, the delivery of public services should be clear and accountable to everyone.

We will apply this approach across the full range of public services to ensure our nation has the high quality public services we deserve.

Public service finances
Funding for our public services is set to rise by nearly £5 billion in the next three years. This is not down to generosity on anyone’s behalf but to increased taxes that you have paid. It is vital that this new money is used to maximum effect. That is why we have set up our New Projects Fund. It will take money away from the pet projects and bureaucracy of the Labour-LibDem coalition and spend it on frontline services. So, for instance, it will be our New Projects Fund that pays for the reduction in class sizes and the abolition of the Graduate Endowment.

An SNP administration will also focus our spending more. We believe that the key to reducing waiting times for hospital treatment is to employ more nurses. The best way to do that is by offering them a competitive salary. That is why we use money from the £2 billion increase in the Scottish health budget and spend it creating a competitive salary for our nurses.

Not for Profit Trusts
New Labour has tried to tackle years of under investment in our infrastructure, our public buildings, schools, and hospitals, with an expensive privatisation project, the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) or Public Private Partnership.

Under this scheme, schools and hospitals are no longer owned by the public sector - they are transferred to a private consortium. As a consequence, they are run for profit rather than the public good. By this route, money intended to pay for public services leaves the system to pay excess private profits.

Furthermore, use of PFI-privatisation to date means that profit competes with service provision. Consequently, PFI schools have lost after-hours access to playing fields and leisure facilities and PFI hospitals have resulted in fewer beds.

We reject this notion of PFI-privatisation. Scotland deserves better, and we are pursuing policies, which put public service before profit. We propose the use of Not for Profit Trusts for the provision of public sector assets. These would allow the main issues of ownership, control and finance to be addressed. Under our proposals, the assets would not be owned by a private consortium, whose first motivation was profit, but by a trust, whose first priority was public service. This would ensure that the asset was run for the benefit of the community. It would also mean that instead of being creamed off to pay excess profit, public money was channelled back in to the provision of services.

Our proposals mean better services and cheaper delivery of these services. And they mean that services are run for the benefit of the communities they serve, rather than the benefit of financiers and bankers.

A country that looks after its public services looks after its people. After all, what is more important than the health and education of our population and a justice system that is fair and equal? The SNP want high quality public services that Scotland can be proud of.

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