But thanks to Audit Scotland the truth about the cash-strapped Scottish Government has been laid bare, an administration so short of money that in the last year it could afford not to spend just under £2bn of its £51.2bn budget.
We all know about the £20m it has squirrelled away for an independence referendum next year it can’t hold, but Audit Scotland’s audit of the consolidated accounts has also exposed the extent to which our money has been squandered on politically motivated pet projects at key points before elections.
SNP to the rescue at Prestwick Airport, Ferguson Marine, Burntisland Fabrication and the Lochaber aluminium smelter, but now we know the cost. At Prestwick an outlay of £50m is now worth £11.6m, at Ferguson Marine £52m was written off last year and the Government will have spent £340m on two ferries which will only be worth £78m. At Burntisland nearly £51m of loans have also been written off, and at Lochaber the exposure is £114m
And elsewhere in the report, we discover that an estimated £67.5m of social security overpayments were made in Scotland because of the complex cross-border system over which the SNP has presided.
Money is actually leaking out of this SNP administration faster than a prematurely launched ferry, so it’s all the more remarkable it can’t spend what it has; £121m short in social justice, housing and local government, £475m in net zero, energy and transport, and an astonishing £806m shy in education and skills.
Although the SNP claims much of the latter is because of student loans and interest rate movements which can’t be spent elsewhere, it still leaves a vast amount which could have been used to improve all public services last year.
Meanwhile, NHS Lothian urgently needs to find £19m of savings by the year end.
But it’s not just a significant number of voters who are taken in by the SNP’s ‘poor us’ patter but the ex-PM Gordon Brown, whose sketches on how a future Britain might look were published this week and are set to become Labour policy.
Why the Scottish Government needs more powers when it doesn’t use the ones it has is anyone’s guess, but when he recommended more scope for loans I presume he unaware of the pile of unused booty from British tax-payers piling up in Nicola Sturgeon’s coffers, and didn’t know SNP ministers hadn’t taken full advantage of the £450m borrowing available to them each year, using just £150m,
This amounts to a triple whammy of incompetence which means Scottish services are being badly short-changed by an administration which blames London at every turn to cover up their own ineptitude. Millions blown on lost causes to buy votes, millions available for vital projects which they don’t take up, and billions doing nothing when councils and health boards are screaming out for help.
And this is a party which says Scotland is being held back? There is only one thing holding Scotland back and it’s an SNP government which has no interest in making the United Kingdom work. And they are wasting your money to prove it.
Sue Webber is a Scottish Conservative MSP for the Lothians