SNP’s bonfire of their OWN promises
- All new NHS, road and rail projects ‘under review’ as Humza’s government admits it is running out of money
In an alarming development, the Scottish Government has announced that all future infrastructure plans have been paused while a review is carried out to establish whether or not it can pay for them.
High-profile proposals to dual sections of the A9 trunk road could also be canned.
A detailed analysis of which projects are set to be axed will be published next month around the time of the Holyrood Budget.
Humza Yousaf’s infrastructure promises are under threat
The stalled project for the vital A9 dualling could be cut back or halted altogether thanks to SNP mismanagement
The bombshell news, which could have massive implications for jobs and the economy, follows a parliamentary report which warned last week that Scotland could run out of money unless Ministers improve the way that they manage the nation’s finances.
Last night Scottish Conservative finance and local government spokesman Liz Smith said: ‘This admission is all too typical of the SNP.
It reflects the short-term thinking which, as the finance committee rightly identified, has been the hallmark of SNP Ministers’ approach to Scotland’s finances for far too long.
‘This, in turn, has created a black hole in the budget, savage cuts to frontline services and stagnant growth.’
Scotland is expected to face a spending gap of up to £1 billion in the next fiscal year, which could spiral to £1.9 billion by 2027-28.
According to a report published last week by the Scottish parliament’s finance and public administration committee, difficulties stem in part from the SNP government refusing to carry out enough long-term financial planning.
Finances are now so dire that the Scottish Government has launched an urgent review of all planned capital projects to see what it can and can’t afford.
Among the raft of infrastructure proposals under threat is Mr Yousaf’s pledge to spend £400 million on building National Treatment Centres (NTCs), a project he hailed as key to slashing waiting lists and rebooting the NHS when he was Health Secretary.
A huge question mark now looms over the future of the centres after several health boards confirmed uncertainties over timescales and costs.
Ten centres to tackle long waits for new hips and knees, endoscopy, general surgery and ophthalmology were announced by Mr Yousaf in August 2021.
At the time the Scottish Government said: ‘Central to our objectives of tackling the Covid-related treatment backlogs, and putting the NHS on a sustainable path for the future, is the creation of a network of National Treatment Centres for planned elective procedures and diagnostic care.’
Last year Mr Yousaf effectively staked his reputation on delivery of the centres.
He said: ‘These centres will mark the largest expansion in elective care capacity in NHS Scotland with an overall investment of more than £400 million.
‘We know that the pandemic has taken its toll on services like orthopaedics, but the network of NTCs will help address this and will be central to NHS recovery.’
Three centres have been opened – an eye centre at the Golden Jubilee hospital in Clydebank, as well as two in Fife and Highland – while an expansion at the Golden Jubilee and a centre in Larbert, Stirlingshire, are supposed to open by the end of the year.
However, some which are at the planning stage have stalled.
NHS Ayrshire & Arran said officials had been due to submit the business case for its NTC in May.
A spokesman said: ‘Following consultation with the Scottish Government Health Directorates Capital Investment Group, this was deferred.’
NHS Lanarkshire confirmed it has ‘no clarity on the timing of the programme going forward’ after initially expecting to open its NTC by 2026.
NHS Lothian said it was ‘very committed’ to its NTC but added: ‘Timescales and costs are currently under review.’
Meanwhile NHS Grampian’s website puts the opening of its centre at 2027/28, much later than the original 2025.
Figures last week highlighted that nearly 10,400 people were waiting for hip surgery by the end of May 2023, up from just over 3,000 in 2019.
Endoscopy waits have increased by 1,230 in the three months to the end of June to 35,957, up 3.5 per cent.
Questioned about the NTCs, the Scottish Government confirmed it is now reviewing the affordability of future capital projects.
A spokesman said: ‘Our ability to fund capital projects has been affected by the twin challenge of a lower than expected amount of capital grant to be received from UK Government over the next two years and unprecedented levels of inflation.
‘A review of capital projects across Scotland is currently under way and, once concluded, will clarify the funding available for future health and social care infrastructure projects, including the remaining national treatment centres.’
Transport projects will likely also be affected by the SNP’s alleged financial mismanagement, including the dualling of some sections of the A9.
According to a list of capital projects uploaded by the Scottish Government earlier this year, a section of the road between Tomatin and Moy in Inverness-shire is yet to be completed – meaning it could be on the ‘scrap’ list in next month’s announcement.
The UK Government said it is ‘providing the Scottish Government with a record £41 billion per year settlement – the largest since devolution and one that is still increasing in real terms over the 2021 Spending Review period’.
A spokesman added: ‘The Scottish Government can also borrow up to £450 million for capital investment on top of this record funding.’