Councillors decided to withhold £1.3m from Midlothian’s health budget

Friday March 3rd 2023


This View has been written by Councillor Pauline Winchester, Midlothian West (Conservative).”

I read with interest what the Leader of the Council said in Midlothian View (read it here).

The first paragraph said, “Midlothian Councillors work together for the benefit of our communities”. It would give us all great pleasure if this continues to happen in the next four years, but going by the last five years, it’s unlikely to happen. Whatever the public wants to see happen, politics absolutely plays a part. All Midlothian Councillors are either SNP, Scottish Labour or Scottish Conservative. Listen to the Council Leader’s introduction to the budget cuts in the council meeting held on 31st January. In that speech, it was apparently “Westminster’s fault” that funding to councils hasn’t been increased.

Very simply, the money given to the Scottish Government by the U.K. Government has increased (not counting any money for Covid). The money given to Scottish Councils has not increased. For an independent assessment please read the Fraser of Allander Institute’s paper on this. Scotland gets more money per head of population than any other area in the U.K.

Midlothian Council is facing an uphill struggle and needs to make huge cuts over the next five years if the funding mechanism doesn’t change. This year the public saw the cuts that were proposed, but last-minute changes in accounting gave some relief. It is likely that every cut in the budget proposal will be back on the table next year and the year after.

At the last minute, Councillors decided to withhold £1.3m from Midlothian’s health budget despite John Swinney saying what they “must” get. It was simple to say, “The IJB will not get the £1.3m” as most listeners wouldn’t be aware of what it meant. Few know what the Integrated Joint Board (IJB) covers, so there was little chance there would be an outcry by residents. I’m not sure that every Councillor agreeing to this even knew what that would mean.

It means that there will be £1.3m less going to health services for Midlothian residents. Unfortunately, the Director for Health and Social Care in Midlothian got less than 24 hours’ notice from the SNP administration that Midlothian’s health services were not going to get the £1.3m. This comes on top of the council not passing on nearly £1m to the health budget to cover wage rises.

For those who don’t know what the health budget covers here are a few of the services:

– Social work services for adults and older people

– Mental Health Services

– Drug and alcohol services

– Adult protection and domestic abuse

– Carers support services

– Community care assessment teams

– Care home services

– Adult placement services

– Health improvement services

– Aspects of housing support, including aids and adaptions

– Day services

– Respite provision

– Occupational therapy services

– Criminal justice social work services

– Health Visitors

– Services in Health Centres

It’s pretty obvious to me, that the largest groups of people who will be hit are the elderly or those most in need. At a time when Scotland is suffering from increased drug deaths and alcohol problems, money could be cut. At a time when the over-75s are rising very quickly, especially in Midlothian, their services could be affected.

Tweet Share on Facebook  

Subscribe to the Midlothian View newsletter

Support Midlothian View from as little as £1. It only takes a minute. Thank you.

Comments are closed.