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Hunt should follow the fine example set by the SNP


Le chancelier Jeremy Hunt a déclaré dimanche dans l'émission BBC One avec Laura Kuenssberg que nous allons tous payer plus d'impôts <i>(Picture: PA)</i>” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/6L.A8QkjlZnsLUHLKR_oqA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/herald_scotland_359/e5bbe897d44129b3d26c87bc031″ data “</div>
<p><figcaption class=Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said on the BBC One show with Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday that we are all going to pay more tax (Picture: PA)

WE eagerly await Thursday’s fall statement (“Chancellor in stark warning: Taxes must rise for everyone,” The Herald, November 14). We just can’t hear more of the same. We need progressive taxation, where those with higher incomes bear more of the burden.

This statement should aim to reach out, target spending to those in need and follow the example here in Scotland of progressive taxation and Scottish Child Payment.

At the start of this momentous week, Scotland got off to a good start with an increase today (14 November) in the Scottish Child Payment to £25 per week for each eligible child. Additionally, the inclusion criteria for this benefit have been expanded. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation think tank describes the extended deployment and increase as “a watershed moment in the fight against poverty in Scotland and one that the rest of the UK should take note of”.

The Conservative government has a lot to answer for in the cost of living crisis. Jeremy Hunt must prioritize those who really need help.
Catriona C Clark, falkirk

• WHEN it comes to this Thursday’s statement, we all want medicine to stop the rot, and this government knows how to deliver it.

Jeremy Hunt is ruthless and still despised after his tenure as Health Secretary. He delivers the pain with that maniacal grin on his face, the perfect man for this week’s big announcement. Rishi Sunak, this month’s ex-Chancellor and Prime Minister, loves financial calculations; remember how determined he was to take that £20 from our poorest. May God help us all.

On Thursday, the Conservatives will do what they do best and what they have been doing for 12 years: austerity and misery. This government of permanent crisis continues unabated and will inflict suffering as long as it remains in power.
Paul Morrison, Glasgow

Consider the dire state of the UK

WITH the Chancellor’s impending announcement of what will inevitably be a punitive budget statement, it may be timely for those of your correspondents who regularly criticize the performance of the Scottish Government to reflect on the current tragic state of the UK.

Without in any way wishing to gloss over the errors committed by the Holyrood administration, these are marginal compared to the appalling mess in which this country finds itself today. The British economy collapsed. Britain’s national debt is spiraling out of control and now stands at £2.33 trillion, a staggering 98.6% of GDP. Interest rates are rising, as is inflation, with inevitable repercussions on the cost of living and on mortgages.

Thousands of people are being driven to food banks and will struggle to heat their homes this winter. Meanwhile, the gap between the richest and the poorest continues to widen. Years of Tory austerity continue to wreak havoc and, with further public spending cuts announced ahead of Mr Hunt’s statement, things can only get worse.

There is not a single English public service that is running better than it was in 2010. The NHS is in crisis with waiting lists even longer than those seen here in Scotland, while that several health trusts are under investigation for the needless deaths of many babies; the care ward is on the verge of collapse with hundreds of inpatients unable to be discharged while the beleaguered police now face the scandal of a faulty recruitment procedure.

By its own admission, the Westminster government has admitted that the immigration system is broken. As thousands of migrants wait to be processed, various sectors of the UK economy are desperately short of labour. I could go on.

We have had the misfortune to have known successive Conservative governments characterized by incompetence, clientelism, stubbornness, stupidity and the arrogance of some who consider their actions to be above the law. Worryingly, the conservative party that claimed to be the party of “care and compassion” is no more. It was hijacked by the right-wing fanatics of the so-called European Research Group that orchestrated the disaster that is Brexit. Our international reputation as a country of fairness and reliability is in tatters.

Calls for the claimed benefits of the Union now ring hollow. References to the UK’s past glories won’t feed your family or heat your home. Surely we can do better than that.
Eric Melvin, Edinburgh

The NHS challenge

DAVID J Crawford (Letters, 15 November) points out that the NHS priorities are wrong, but somehow blames that on the UK: in fact, those priorities for Scotland are set entirely by Holyrood. And if it’s funding he’s concerned about, one can only wonder how the NHS of an independent Scotland would fare when the £10 billion plus we get from the rest of the UK is taken out of the equation.

However, there is an additional and indeed deeper point to be made about NHS funding and staffing. During the period of investment and expansion of the NHS which took place under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the recruitment of staff took place under the regime of a labor market open to massive recruitment from the countries of the EU, especially the new Member States of Central and Eastern Europe. It seemed to be a win-win in every way in that we could get qualified staff at low cost without having to train them, and EU citizens could take the advice of their governments to come to the UK to ‘earn, learn and come back”.

Now many of those employees have returned, both naturally and as a result of Brexit, and the flaws in the system are increasingly appreciated: we have too few trained employees; we don’t pay them enough; and countries from which we might recruit are likely to need the staff more than we do, especially as they are now more likely to be in developing countries.

Like other sectors of the UK economy, including manufacturing, the NHS now faces the challenge of moving away from the open labor market model. This will require investments in recruitment and training, as well as salaries and conditions of service that will retain staff to develop rewarding and happy careers in the NHS.

Again, this challenge also applies to industry, where similar investments will be needed to increase skills and productivity. In short, we must finally move from a model based on the flexibility of not very good jobs to a model based on the stability of better jobs. And in the case of the NHS, our care services and all other public services, we must be prepared to pay extra for this transition; likewise, businesses and entrepreneurs must be prepared to pay for the training and wages and conditions needed to transform their own sectors.

Finally, no one should be fooled by the chimera of an independent Scotland in the EU. The practical truth is that it is one of the functions of the smaller EU member states to provide cheap labor for the larger ones. Scotland would be one of those small countries, and our trained NHS staff (and workers from other industries) are more likely to move on to better paid and more rewarding jobs in Germany, France or in the Netherlands, rather than our NHS and businesses are again supported as they have been by EU nationals.
Peter A Russel, Glasgow

We have to wait for England

DUNCAN Sooman (Letters, November 14) criticizes John Swinney for having “defended [the Scottish Government’s] position by declaring that it is worse in England”. Mr. Sooman’s view that this is a “standard response becoming tediously boring” is a fine example of what former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee called during Watergate , “a denial without denial”. Mr. Sooman’s point cannot even be considered a substantive criticism.

This would be all the more true if Mr. Swinney’s explanation were true, which Mary Thomas (Letters, November 14) helpfully demonstrates is the case. Ms Thomas points out that nurses in Scotland are paid 10% more than in England and have been given a higher salary offer, which the RCN has already rejected.

However, in relation to this wage demand, the Scottish Government said there was no money left to offer an even bigger raise, as it operates on a fixed budget and cannot borrow (unlike Westminster ) to make a higher salary offer. However, if/when there is a settlement of the dispute of nurses (and indeed many other public sector workers) in England, then this additional English expenditure will result in an increase in the block grant. But first we have to wait for the settlement in England so that the nurses’ dispute is resolved here.
Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton

Read more letters: UK’s skewed priorities are destroying our health service


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