SNP accused of ‘levelling down’ Scotland by not tackling inequality

The Scottish Conservatives have claimed the SNP are “holding Scotland back with their obsession with independence”.

SNP accused by Scottish Conservatives of ‘levelling down’ Scotland by not tackling inequality iStock

The SNP has been accused of “levelling down” the country by “failing to tackle inequality and deliver equal opportunity”.

The Scottish Conservatives said there is a “growing chasm” between those in the most and least deprived parts of Scotland.

They accused the SNP of “holding Scotland back with their obsession with independence”, which they said was “diverting ministers’ attention away” from improving lives.

Analysis carried out by the party showed wages are almost twice as high in East Renfrewshire as they are in Moray, with residents living in the latter local authority earning on average £11.83 per hour – against £20.87 per hour in East Renfrewshire.

The Tories also highlighted data from Audit Scotland which suggested people living in Scotland’s most deprived areas have a healthy life expectancy of two decades less than those in the least deprived.

In 2020/21, the party said, drug-related hospital admissions in Scotland’s most deprived areas were more than 21 times greater than those in the least deprived.

In the most deprived areas, the rate was 655.4 per 100,000, compared to 30.2 per 100,000 in the least deprived areas.

And it said the country’s education attainment gap between children from the most and least affluent areas is “wider than ever”.

Scottish Conservative local government spokesman, Miles Briggs, said: “For 15 years, Scotland has been levelled down by an SNP Government that has centralised more and more power to Holyrood, and neglected local communities.

“Across the country, Scots have seen violent crime rise, school standards slip and public services decline, as their local areas have become a shadow of what they once were.

“And for all of Nicola Sturgeon’s ludicrous talk of leading a progressive government, it is Scotland’s poorest communities that have been hit hardest by SNP neglect.

“Savage SNP cuts to local government have robbed councils of the ability to fund local services and, as a result, inequality has run rampant.

“Scotland’s communities cannot take another five years of being levelled down by an SNP Government and SNP councils fixated on pushing for another divisive independence referendum, rather than improving people’s lives.”

The SNP’s leader, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, said on Saturday that the idea that local issues are being put aside in favour of independence is a “ridiculous assertion”.

SNP MP, Alison Thewliss, said the party has set out plans to tackle the cost-of-living crisis ahead of the local government elections on May 5, adding that voters will have the choice between “SNP action” or “Tory inaction”.

The Glasgow Central MP said: “Since 2007, every single household in Scotland has benefitted from the lowest crime rates in four decades, the best performing A&E units in the UK, lower taxes, and progressive SNP policies such as free tuition, free prescriptions, the Baby Box, and the doubling of the Scottish Child Payment.

“Meanwhile, under Westminster control, we have been subjected to decades of austerity and now face the worst cost-of-living crisis in modern times – created entirely by the Tories.

“Ahead of the election on May 5, the SNP has set out plans to tackle the cost of living crisis.

“This includes a £150 payment to ease household budgets, expanding free early learning and childcare, introducing wraparound childcare, building 110,000 affordable homes in the next decade, and developing a National Care Service.

“There is the clear choice facing the people of Scotland on May 5. It is a choice between SNP action, compassion and leadership, or Tory inaction, self-interest, complacency and sleaze.”

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