Boris Johnson has said Scotland will receive more than £1bn as he announced plans to raise additional cash for social care reform across the UK.
The Prime Minister announced that in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic the UK Government is to introduce a new health and social care levy, based on a 1.25% increase in national insurance (NI) contributions.
Johnson insisted this was a “reasonable and the fair approach” to paying for the reforms – despite breaching a manifesto pledge not to raise NI contributions.
However the SNP warned the changes would be the Prime Minister’s version of the “poll tax”, with the party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford accusing the Tory of taxing Scottish workers twice.
Blackford said: “By raising this levy across the UK, the Tories are taxing Scottish workers twice – forcing them to pay the bill for social care in England as well as at home in Scotland.
“This is the Prime Minister’s poll tax on Scottish workers to pay for English social care.”
In 1990 riots broke out after then Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher attempted to reform council financing via the community charge – dubbed the poll tax – a policy which was introduced first in Scotland.
Johnson however insisted that the three devolved nations would “benefit from an extra £2.2bn a year”, adding that “this is about 15% more than they would contribute through the levy”.
In a letter to the first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Conservative told them that by 2024-25 “Scotland will benefit from an additional £1.1bn, Wales from £700 million and Northern Ireland from £400m”.
His comments came as he insisted: “The Government is committed to supporting our NHS and to improving health outcomes for citizens across the country.”
But in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which has put both the NHS and the care sector under massive pressure, Johnson said the “scale of the challenge we all face requires a new approach”.
He added: “The Government will therefore make available an additional £12bn in health and social care across the UK on average per year. This is a significant and permanent increase in public spending.”
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said that the new health and social care levy “will provide around £1bn extra a year for care services in Scotland, helping tackle post-Covid backlogs and ensuring that the most vulnerable people in our communities receive the support they need”.
Jack added: “Britain’s NHS, so precious to us all, went above and beyond during the pandemic. As a result, it is now facing huge challenges right across the UK. At the same time, all parts of the UK are facing the issue of reforming social care.
“We tackled the pandemic as one United Kingdom, and it is vital that we work on our recovery together. That includes working together to get public services in all parts of the UK back on track.”
His comments came as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pledged her government would bring forward legislation within the coming year to set up a National Care Service north of the border.
She said she hoped the new service would be up and running by the end of this Holyrood term in 2026, adding that it would be “arguably the most significant public service reform since the creation of the National Health Service”.