Eilidh Whiteford


Whiteford: YES Vote is One Opportunity to Secure NHS for the Future

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Banff and Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has urged undecided voters to take the opportunity of independence to secure the future of the NHS as a free and open health service – and to consider the implications a No vote would have for Scotland’s future funding.

Picking up on comments from the unionist parties over recent months, Dr Whiteford claimed Scotland stands to face significant cuts through the scrapping of the Barnett Formula.

Scrapping the Barnett Formula was one of the recommendations of the LibDem’s commission on further powers. Senior Labour figures including Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones[1], Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls[2] and Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith[3] have all recently called for it to be scrapped. Prime Minister David Cameron stated in 2010 that “the Barnett Formula is coming to the end of its life”, and in 2013 refused to guarantee its future.[4]

Dr Whiteford said:

“All the evidence points to the fact that the unionist parties are agreed on cutting the Barnett Formula in the event of a 'no' vote. If the Barnett Formula is cut, it would mean £4 billion a year less coming to Scotland.

“Barnett represents a pretty poor deal at the best of times – Scotland already contributes far more revenue to the UK than it receives back. However, ending Barnett will ensure that what we receive back is even less. To put those numbers into perspective, a £4 billion cut represents a third of Scotland’s current NHS budget. That’s the equivalent to five times NHS Grampian’s annual budget of £777 million. It is difficult to overstate the sort of damage such a cut to the Scottish Government’s grant would do.

“In tandem with the direct threat to the current funding arrangements is the prospect that privatisation of NHS services in England will have an impact on the budget allocation for Scotland. The English NHS is in chaos because of the UK Coalition Government’s privatisation policies – and any cuts to the English NHS budget will have a direct impact on funding for services in Scotland.

“Everyone should know that a No vote isn’t a vote for no change – it’s a vote for Scotland’s budget to be tied to Westminster’s austerity policies, and for electors in Scotland to place their services at the mercy of the Tory-led Government in London. Devolution allows us to improve our services – but it gives us no control whatsoever over the size of the funding pot.

“There’s a better way forward – and that’s for the Scottish Parliament to have full responsibility for its budget, with a Yes vote in September.”

  2. Speaking to Insider (06-Dec-2011) before addressing a CBI Wales dinner, he said:
    "It [the Barnett Formula] was never intended to be long term. We are getting to the point where it needs to be looked at again … I have read the Holtham report [on funding] and I understand the arguments."

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