Britain is Broken Politics

A tale of two governments: 7 key performance comparisons between the Scottish and Westminster Governments

Written by Emma MacFarlane

With a general election on the way, focusing on Brexit and independence, there will be a blizzard of claims about government records. Therefore, we have compared and contrasted the two governments, the UK Conservatives and SNP in Scotland, in a number of significant areas.

It is hugely important to be aware of some of the key figures and outcomes of the UK Government so we have looked the last nine years of both SNP (in Scotland) and Conservative rule for the UK overall. By assessing these results alongside the spending and policies of the Scottish government an interesting comparison can be made.

1. Homelessness and rough sleeping is on the rise in the rest of the UK, while figures fall in Scotland

A growing concern within the UK is the rising levels of homelessness and rough sleeping.

  • Rough sleeping statistics highlighted a massive 165% rise in the number of rough sleepers in England since 2010.
  • The numbers of rough sleepers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are increasing, however, in Scotland numbers are falling.
  • In 2018-19 only 8% (2,876) of applicants reported having slept rough at least once in the three months before applying for assistance, compared to 13% (6,571) in 2002/3.

2. Child poverty levels increasing faster in rest of the UK than in Scotland

Over the past decade, growing child poverty has been a huge issue in the UK. Since the Conservative party came to power in 2010, the number of children in absolute poverty has increased by 0.5 million. However, Scotland’s child poverty levels are dramatically lower than the rest of the UK.

  • In 2017, there were 4.1 million children living in poverty in the UK.
  • This equates to 30% of children in the UK.
  • In Scotland, 25% (240,000) of children live in poverty.

Moreover, the Scottish government’s announcement of the Scottish Child Payment, a £10 a week payment for eligible under-sixes, shows how seriously they are taking their legal obligations on reducing child poverty.

3. The use of food banks in the rest of the UK exceeds numbers in Scotland

The need for food banks is another major problem throughout the country. The UK’s largest food bank provider, Trussell Trust, has claimed that the distribution of three-day emergency food supplies has risen dramatically to 1,583,668 in the year to March 2019. While there is also a need for food banks in Scotland, the problem is not as severe as the rest of the UK.

  • The distribution of three-day emergency food supplies has increased by 3,772% since the Conservative party came into power, when 40,898 emergency packages were supplied.
  • This percentage increase is lower in Scotland. Since the SNP formed the first majority government in 2011, the number of three-day emergency food supplies has risen from 5,726 to 210,605 (3578%).

Benefits and minimum wage are not fully devolved powers, making it more difficult for the Scottish Government to control this situation. Despite this, the Scottish Government continue to prevent these figures rising as hard and fast as the rest of the UK.

4. Scottish local authorities set for budget increase, while English local governments suffer massive 49.1% reduction in funding.

Local authorities in the rest of the UK have been suffering from stricter budget cuts. In Scotland, the local government revenue settlement fell between 2016-17 and 2017-18, however, this trend is now reversing.

  • There has been a 49.1% real-term reduction in government funding for local authorities in England from 2010-11 to 2017-18.
  • This is predicted to rise to a 56% reduction by 2019-20.
  • However, in Scotland the Local Government Finance Order figures for 2018-19 to 2019-20 demonstrate that the revenue settlement for local government increases by 1%, and the Scottish Government’s revenue budget increases by 0.9%.

5. Carers in Scotland given £452.40 more a year than those in the rest of the UK

Another area in which the Scottish Government outperforms the UK government is with regard to carers allowance. Although carers allowance stands at a basic rate of £66.15 a week in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Scottish government offer two extra annual payments. Carers living in Scotland and receiving Carer’s Allowance on certain qualifying dates receive two payments of £226.20 as a ‘Carers Allowance Supplement’ in addition to Carer’s Allowance.

  • This results in more than 83,000 carers in Scotland receiving an extra £452.40 as a result of Scottish Government spending.

6. Police numbers rise in Scotland by 0.28% and fall by 14% in England and Wales, while recorded crime is on the rise in the UK and decreasing in Scotland.

Police numbers and funding has been a topic of great controversy lately.

  • The number of police officers in England and Wales fell by approximately 14% between 2010 and 2017, and the total number of police workers has decreased by 17% since 2010.
  • However, in Scotland the SNP government has invested in this sector. For example, between 2011 and 2019 the number of police officers has risen by 0.28%.

With falling police numbers, police recorded crime has, unsurprisingly, risen in England and Wales in recent years. The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) indicated a continuing rise in fraud with the latest estimates showing a 15% increase, driven by a 17% rise in “bank and credit account fraud”.

  • Between March 2010 and March 2019, there has been an increase of 37%.
  • In Scotland, on the other hand, recorded crimes and offences have fallen from 314,186 in 2011-12 to 246,480 in 2018-19, a decrease of 22%.

7. A huge number of affordable houses made available under SNP Government, while Conservatives fail to deliver any of the promised homes.

One of the Scottish Government’s main ambitions is to ensure everyone has a safe, warm and affordable house.

  • Since the SNP have come to office more than 87,000 affordable homes have been delivered.
  • However, despite the Conservatives promising to build 200,000 starter homes in their 2015 election campaign, the National Audit Office have explained that none of these promised homes have been built due to the government failing to budget properly or activate the appropriate legislation.

These facts and figures highlight some of the opposing outcomes of nine years of Conservative rule, and approaching nine years of a SNP Government in Scotland.

Most of the powers that impact on these outcomes are not devolved, and are therefore, controlled by a UK government that was not elected to govern Scotland, and does not match the values of the people of Scotland, or address the needs of the country.

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Emma MacFarlane

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