Last Wednesday marked the moment Ms Sturgeon’s tenure as First Minister overtook that of her predecessor, Alex Salmond – but the moment was marked with an apparent series of failures across health, social mobility and economics. This comes just as the Scottish government is set to report an enormous £3.5billion budget shortfall tomorrow.
He said these have led to a “multi-billion budget shortfall over the next four years under current forecasts”.
He also predicted: “Because it cannot borrow to fund day-to-day spending except in some limited circumstances, [tomorrow’s] Scottish Spending Review could see the announcement of pretty hefty tax rises or cuts to spending on lower priority services, and even the abandoning of some policy commitments, to bring the budget into balance.”
Meanwhile, eight statistics paint the First Minister’s tenure up until this point in a very poor light, the first three of which revolve around the quality of life for Scottish citizens.
Firstly, the life expectancy for men and women in Scotland has seen the most dramatic fall in 40 years, accelerating under Ms Sturgeon’s watch.
Scottish men born today can expect to live 77 years, the lowest of any UK country (it’s 79 in England) and a fall of some 18 weeks on the year before, while the same is true for women who can expect to live to 81 – a six week fall.
Glasgow has the lowest life expectancy of anywhere in the UK, and the situation only worsens across class divides, with a ten year gap in life expectancy between baby girls born in the poorest and richest areas of Scotland. The difference reaches nearly 14 in baby boys.
Meanwhile, deaths from “drug-related” causes have soared, reaching a record high for the seventh year in a row as more people die from drug misuse in Scotland than anywhere else in the developed world.
Last year, the heads of Scotland’s “drug taskforce” resigned, saying the government’s “demand for speed” over a report on reforms was “counterproductive” and driven by a desire to meet targets rather than achieving “sustainable change”.
Meanwhile, the SNP’s government is plagued by a persistent attainment gap between rich and poor – something which Ms Sturgeon had said it would be her “defining mission” to close.
At 11 years old, there is a 20 percent gap between the richest and poorest pupils’ ability to write, read and count, according to the Scottish Government’s data.
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The situation is also difficult for the NHS in Scotland, with 8,000 patients waiting for more than the four hour standard to be seen in A&E last month – making up nearly a third of all those who went.
The four hour target hasn’t been met since 2020, with frontline doctors warning the Covid backlog will take years to clear.
Another public service, the recently nationalist Scotrail, has also been facing severe issues under the SNP, with multiple services delayed or cancelled over the last few weeks following dispute’s with driver’s unions.
Meanwhile the drive for an independent Scotland referendum, one of the defining features of Ms Sturgeon’s election campaign, appears to have stalled.
The most recent polling places the Yes vote at 49 percent, which has scarcely moved since the first referendum on the subject in 2014.
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But perhaps most damaging for the SNP government is the economic situation it is currently facing.
As a result of the Barnett Formula spending on public services in Scotland is around 30 percent higher than it is in England, with a spending deficit of 22 percent.
The IFS’ report of a £3.5billion shortfall further puts pressure on the SNP to balance their books, with Mr Phillips arguing “difficult choices on Scottish tax and spending over the next few years will eventually have to be faced.”
He added: “Political considerations – including those related to the Scottish government’s desire for another independence referendum – will undoubtedly play a role in whether those choices are made clear next week or not.”
Mr Phillips went on to argue that the UK Treasury would have to pledge a further £40 billion in spending to fill the funding hole.