“2023 a year that will be tough and hardest on the most vulnerable”

Monday January 9th 2023

Christine Grahame MSP in Parliament Main

Christine Grahame MSP writes her monthly column for Midlothian View

My best wishes to you from this year 2023, a year that will be tough and hardest on the most vulnerable.

Perfectly understandable pay demands are being made of the Scottish Government by health workforce, teachers, ambulance, Fire & Rescue ,to counter inflation. These would have to come from a budget set when inflation was 3%. As a result, especially of Trussonomics ,inflation jumped from 3% when the Scottish budget was set, to 11% and Brexit has helped add to inflation also leaving us short of a workforce, especially in the care and health sector. That 11% inflation has knocked £1.4 billion, yes billion, from that budget for public services.

It follows, and you don’t need a degree in arithmetic, that any increases in pay awards has to mean cuts elsewhere. All of this this begs the question, why are we putting up with this? We are at the mercy of inflation and the fall-out from Brexit neither of which we in Scotland voted for. There are only 6 Tory MPs in Scotland, 1 Labour and 4 Lib/Dems to 45 SNP MPs. We also voted 62% Remain.

Across Midlothian as in councils elsewhere, there are tough choices ahead. The Scottish Government has mitigated where and if it can. It has provided the Child Payment to qualifying families of £25 per week for each child, I repeat, each child under the age of 16. The Baby Box has over a 90% uptake providing the best start for all babies whose mothers claim it. With young people in mind it extended concessionary travel to all under 22. Crucially as we fall victim to winter viruses, prescriptions are free but costs over £9 per item in England. But why are we taking these protective steps, when we voted for none of this UK mismanagement and austerity?

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