THE claimed £1.5 billion coming to Scotland next year for health and education should be seen in the context of UK inflation removing £1.7bn from Scotland’s fixed budget this year and, as analysis by the Health Foundation found, that the UK has underfunded the NHS by £40bn a year over the past decade compared to the EU average, meaning £4bn a year less for Scotland’s NHS compared to our EU neighbours. And some wonder why the NHS is struggling.

Jeremy Hunt’s Budget revealed that between 2022 and 2028 the UK is expected to raise £20bn a year from Scotland’s oil and gas, which we were told in 2014 was running out within five years. Meanwhile the UK national debt is projected to rise sharply from 84.3% of GDP last year to a 63-year high of 97.6% in 2025/26 and will be factored into the Gers figures to show that Scotland is a subsidy junkie.

While the Tories are making spending cuts of £27bn next year, the banks are making big windfall profits on the massive £950bn of reserves held at the Bank of England, as a result of increases to the bank rate, yet Jeremy Hunt cut the bank corporation tax surcharge from 8% to 3%. This means these banks will benefit by £136bn over the next five years. It is also worth pointing out that on independent Scotland should be entitled to a population share of the UK nationalised Bank of England’s reserves. This would easily provide sufficient reserves for our central bank and a Scottish currency.

Jeremy Hunt also confirmed spending of £700,000 to build the Sizewell C nuclear power plant, and the UK could be on the hook for billions more if the Chinese investors pull out. This is not needed in an energy-rich Scotland and means higher energy bills when compared to cheaper renewable electricity, which is once again being penalised by the UK Government.

Brexit has trashed Scotland’s exports and meant increased food prices. Data from the Office for Budget Responsibility and the European Commission confirms that the UK faces the sharpest decline in GDP in Europe by some margin. Yet neither Tories nor Labour mention Brexit or UK failed energy policy as a major factor in facing a decade of a lower standard of living under the UK compared to Ireland, Denmark, Finland or Norway. Only independence can change this direction of travel.

Mary Thomas

IT is difficult at this point to get accurate figures for additional NHS support to Scotland in light of the recent “financial statement”, but let’s look for a second at the numbers that relate to England.

We are informed that the English NHS will receive an additional £3.3 billion for each of the next two years.

This is a big number indeed, but I suspect we are meant to be impressed by the figure rather than analyse it too deeply!

Let’s do a bit of rudimentary analysis. The NHS budget for England is approximately £121bn per year. An extra £3.3bn is being allocated each year, which represents a percentage increase (in cash terms) of 2.7% for each of the next two years. When you consider, however, that the current inflation rate is approximately 10% per year, that represents a real-terms financial cut for the English NHS of 6.7% each year.

Do they think that a bit of elementary arithmetic is beyond us?

Beware when politicians try to impress with big numbers!

Alex Leggatt

PERSONALLY I think STV News is more anti-Scottish Government, anti-independence and pro-Unionist in it news delivery than even the BBC, though this seems to fly under the radar with most independence supporters. The fact that they chose Douglas Ross’s condemnation of the poppy burning issue in Edinburgh rather than Scotland’s First Minister’s condemnation is just one in a litany of warped but carefully manipulated news stories constructed by the producers of this programme.

John McCann

YOU report “Experts write to Nicola Sturgeon to demand action on child poverty” (Nov 16). Have these experts who have written to the First Minister demanding action on child poverty made similar combined approaches to the Prime Minister?

Surely a combined approach by the 60-plus signatories who are CEOs or directors of charities to the Prime Minister and UK Government, the root of the problem, would be more effective than one to the Scottish Government that has been doing whatever it can to offset problem caused by the UK Government’s policy in Scotland.

John Jamieson
South Queensferry

WHEN all MPs representing Scotland finally pack up and get ready to leave Westminster for good, could I suggest that before they switch the lights off they please drop into Pete Wishart’s office to check he does have his shoes on and is leaving with everyone else?

Jim McGuinness
Oakley, Fife