Scottish Labour News
Comment on Student Finance Review

21 November 2017

Commenting on the independent review into student support, Scottish Labour's Education spokesperson Iain Gray MSP said:

"I welcome the report from the independent review into student funding and thank them for the huge amount of work that they have done. We call on the SNP to seriously consider its recommendations.

"Students in further education have long suffered from a lack of parity and in student support levels, we fully back the committee’s suggestion that all students should be treated the same whether they are in further or higher education.

"Scottish Labour has long called for a system that does not penalise those moving from benefits into full time education and one that gives support as an entitlement rather than a discretionary basis.

"The call for a minimum student income entitlement goes a long way to fixing many of the current problems.

"Let’s not forget that the SNP came to power in 2007 promising to abolish student debt, instead it has doubled during the decade the SNP has been in office. The SNP has slashed grants and bursaries, forcing students to turn to loans with the poorest students racking up the highest debts.

"The SNP should start to fix what it has got wrong by delivering bursaries for those that need them the most, in both further and higher education."



17 November 2017

The number of modern language assistants (MLAs) in Scottish schools has halved in just a year, according to a new report.

The British Council, which arranges MLAs, said that 80 are being employed across 15 local authorities this year, down from 146 across 14 authorities last year.

Scottish Labour said the figures showed the price of SNP cuts to local services including education, as well as the risk of a Tory hard Brexit.

Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson, Iain Gray, said:

“This is yet more evidence that SNP funding cuts are damaging our children’s education.

“We already know Scotland has lost 4,000 teachers under the SNP and these figures show the consequences of the cuts for another critical group of staff in schools.

“Foreign languages are crucial if we want to make Scotland’s economy fit for the 21st century - and these cuts are leaving our pupils at a disadvantage.

“A hard Tory Brexit will only make this worse.

“Labour would use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to invest in education.”


6 November 2017

The average worker in Scotland has seen their wages plummet by almost £14 a week in real terms since the Tories came to power.

New analysis from Labour shows that the median weekly wage has fallen from £561 a week in 2010, to £547 in 2017.

Labour said the figures showed how working people had suffered under years of Tory austerity, and that the SNP had failed to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to protect the pay packets of working people.

The party challenged the SNP government to develop a strategy to lift wages and boost incomes in Scotland, saying the radical new powers of the Scottish Parliament meant that pointing the finger at Westminster was no longer good enough.

Labour would introduce a £10 an hour living wage, give public sector workers a pay rise and use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to grow our economy.

Scottish Labour’s economy spokesperson, Jackie Baillie, said:

“These are deeply troubling figures that show the real price of Tory austerity, and the SNP’s failure to protect working people’s incomes.

“Both the UK and Scottish governments should be acting to protect people’s pay packets.

“The SNP government should develop a robust strategy to lift wages. The Scottish Parliament has powers over education, enterprise and economic development. It is not acceptable to simply point the finger down south. We need a plan to boost incomes in Scotland.

“Labour has a plan to make people better off. We would introduce a real living wage of £10 an hour, give hard-working public sector employees a pay rise and use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to grow our economy. That would build a country that works for the many, not the few.”


1 November 2017

The SNP cannot hide from its record of NHS mismanagement, Scottish Labour said today.

Scottish Labour brought forward a motion highlighting how the SNP has let down patients and staff in our health service.

Most opposition parties united to condemn the SNP’s record – but it was saved from an embarrassing parliamentary defeat with the help of the Green Party.

Labour’s motion followed a damning Audit Scotland report into the state of our health service, which revealed:

• No progress and in some case declining performance on key performance indicators, with seven out of eight missed again

• The heath budget falling in real terms with health boards having to make unsustainable savings

• Spiralling levels of private agency and locum spending

• The NHS struggling to maintain quality of care

• An increase in the backlog of maintenance required – especially in buildings branded “high risk”

• A stubborn - and in some cases widening - inequality gap for public health

Speaking after the debate, Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson Anas Sarwar MSP said:

“The SNP is failing NHS patients and staff.

“A year ago Audit Scotland published the worst state of the NHS report since devolution. Twelve months on and standards have either stalled or declined.

“Seven out of eight key performance indicators are still being missed, with declining standards for cancer treatment and patients waiting for appointments.

“All this is happening amid a backdrop of underpaid, undervalued and under-pressure staff.

“The SNP’s mismanagement of our NHS has seen the health service lurch from crisis to crisis. Our NHS staff and patients deserve better.”


26 0ctober 2017

The SNP’s management of the health service is spiralling out of control, Alex Rowley said today at First Minister’s Questions. (Thursday 26th. October)

Questioning Nicola Sturgeon on Audit Scotland’s annual state of the NHS report, the interim Scottish Labour leader highlighted increasing health board deficits, prescribing costs and agency spending.

Mr Rowley also revealed that Labour will use its opposition business slot in Holyrood next week to debate the report further.

The Audit Scotland report, released today, has exposed widespread problems throughout the health service, with seven out of eight key targets missed.

Interim Scottish Labour leader, Alex Rowley, said:

“Anyone reading this report from the Auditor General on our NHS cannot be anything but concerned.

“Concerned about the budgets and the financial management of health and social care and the shortages of staff at every level and concerned for the impact of all of this on patients.

“Meanwhile, a lack of workforce planning is driving up costs through having to use agency staff and locums.

“The whole thing is spiralling out of control.

“Labour will use our debating time in Holyrood next week to discuss the Audit Scotland report further.

“After ten years in government Nicola Sturgeon cannot just continue with more of the same – we need a full government response to this report.”

Key quotes from ‘NHS in Scotland 2017’:

“Health funding continues to increase but NHS boards had to make unprecedented levels of savings in 2016/17.” (P11)

“People are waiting longer to be seen with waiting lists for first outpatient appointment and inpatient treatment increasing by 15 per cent and 12 per cent respectively in the past year. The majority of key national performance targets were not met in 2016/17 and wider indicators of quality suggest that the NHS is beginning to struggle to maintain quality of care.” (p11)

“The overall health of the Scottish population continues to be poor and significant health inequalities remain. Life expectancy is lower than in most European countries and improvements have stalled in recent years. Smoking rates have continued to reduce but drug-related deaths increased significantly in 2016/17 and are now the highest in the EU.” (p11)

“The 2017/18 health budget is £13.1 billion, an increase of 1.5 per cent in cash terms, and a decrease of 0.1 per cent in real terms from 2016/17.” (p13)

“It is becoming more difficult for NHS boards to identify the savings they need to make.” (p14)

“In 2016/17, NHS boards spent £171 million on agency staff, an increase of 79 per cent in real terms over the past five years. Spending decreased, however, by three per cent between 2015/16 and 2016/17.” (p17)

“NHS boards had a total backlog maintenance of £887 million in 2016/17, a slight decrease from £898 million in 2015/16. There has been a seven per cent increase in backlog maintenance classed as significant and high risk, to 47 per cent in 2016/17.” (P17)

“Boards reported spending £109 million on agency medical locums in 2016/17, an increase of six per cent in real terms on the previous year.” (P17)

“In the past year, the number of people waiting for their first outpatient appointment increased by almost 40,000, a 15 per cent increase.” (p21)

“The number of people that waited over the standard 12 weeks for their first increased by over 300 per cent (from 21,500 people waiting in the quarter to March 2013 to 87,500 people in the quarter to March 2017). Of these, the number of people that waited over 16 weeks for their first appointment increased tenfold, from 5,000 to almost 58,000 people.” (p21)

“As with last year, NHS Scotland failed to meet seven out of eight key performance standards in 2016/17.” (p22)

“Over the past five years, overall performance has declined in six of the eight key performance standards and remained static in one, with performance only improving against the four-hour accident and emergency standard.” (p22)

“There are signs that the NHS’s ability to maintain quality of care is under pressure and this needs to be closely monitored.” (p23)

“Scotland’s health is not improving and significant inequalities remain.” (p24)

“People living in areas of deprivation are still much more likely to be in poorer health than those living in more affluent areas. The gap is not closing and in some measures is widening.” (p25)

“The Scottish Government does not yet have a strategic approach to capital investment and developing health and social care facilities.” (p35)

Source: NHS in Scotland 2017



23 October 2017

The SNP government’s failure to tackle delayed discharge has cost the NHS more than £100 million in the last year, according to Labour analysis confirmed by the independent experts at the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Spice).

NHS Scotland estimates that it costs £214 per day to keep a patient in hospital who is medically cleared to return home.

In the period of September 2016 to August 2017, the most recent figures available, 511,972 bed days were occupied by delayed discharge patients, meaning the cost to the NHS for the year was £110 million.

SNP Health Secretary Shona Robison promised to abolish delayed discharge out of the system completely in February 2015.

Labour said one of the key reasons that delayed discharge remained a problem was cuts to the budgets of local councils who provide social care.

Labour social care spokesperson Colin Smyth:

“The SNP promised to abolish delayed discharge; instead it has cost our health service more than £100 million in the past year.

“The system is unsustainable. The SNP government cannot continue to slash the budgets of local services that people rely on and not expect it to have a knock on effect to our health service.

“Much of the delays in discharging patients are due to social care issues and delays in care assessments – the result of years of an SNP government slashing local authority budgets, with £1.5billion cut since 2011.

“Labour would take a different path. We would end the cuts to our councils and deliver a National Guarantee for care workers.

“Labour would ensure all care workers are given appropriate training, paid the living wage, including the time and cost for travel, and no worker would have to deal with the insecurity of a zero-hours contract.

“Only Labour would create a country that works for the many, not the few.”

NHS Scotland estimates that it costs £214 per day to keep a patient in hospital who is medically cleared to go home.

For the period Sep 2016 - Aug 2017, the total number of bed days occupied by delayed discharge patients was 511,972

That means delayed discharge has cost the NHS £110 million in that period.

What the SNP Health Secretary Shona Robison promised on delayed discharge:

“I want over the course of this year to eradicate delayed discharge out of the system and I am absolutely determined to do that.”

Source: Shona Robison, BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Wednesday 25 February 2015


20 October 2017

Responding to the SNP government launching a consultation on the Scottish Investment Bank, Labour economy spokesperson Jackie Baillie said:

"A Scottish Investment Bank was a Labour manifesto commitment in June, and formed the centre piece of the SNP's attempted relaunch in the Programme for Government. Whilst imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the SNP appear to have only sketched this out on the back of a fag packet.

“With confidence low and our economy fragile, businesses want action now but beyond an advisory board Nicola Sturgeon has announced no detail in terms of how the bank should operate. It sums up the approach of a government that has completely lost direction over economic policy.

“Nationalist ministers want opposition parties to write their tax policy and the general public to explain to them what an investment bank should do.

“As always with the SNP, it’s spin before substance, and Scots are starting to see through it. “


14 October 2017

There has been a 40 per cent increase in the number of pupils being taught in classes of 30 or more since 2011, new analysis from Scottish Labour reveals.

In 2011 the number of children in primary classes of 30 or more stood at 31,842. The most recent figures show that number now stands at 44,667.

The SNP was famously elected in 2007 on a promise to cut classroom sizes in Primary 1-3. But since it formed a majority government in 2011 and Nicola Sturgeon making education her ‘top priority’ in 2015, the trend has been for increasingly large class sizes.

Labour said the numbers underline the failure of the SNP on education, with 4,000 fewer teachers since the SNP came to power and £1.5 billion cut from local council budgets which fund our schools.

Labour education spokesperson Iain Gray said:

“The SNP came to power promising to cut classroom sizes – instead it has just cut the number of teachers in our schools.

“Promises, pledges and PR stunts on education cannot hide the SNP’s dismal record on our schools – 4,000 fewer teachers, £1.5 billion cut from local budgets, super-sized school classes and a stubborn attainment gap between the richest and the rest.

“Not only has the SNP betrayed parents and pupils with this broken promise – it is one of the reasons John Swinney was told to his face at SNP conference, that Scottish teachers are ‘on their knees’.

“Just as ten years of the SNP has left Scottish teachers among the lowest paid and most overworked in the developed world, they have also delivered some of the biggest class sizes in the world in Scottish schools.

“Nicola Sturgeon put her top minister in charge of the education brief – but John Swinney has found himself overwhelmed and is unable to explain how his misguided reforms will cut class sizes.

“The real reform our schools need is more funding. That is why Labour is the only party with a comprehensive plan to fix our schools, with a review of pay and conditions for teachers and a commitment to use the tax powers to stop the cuts and invest in education.

“The SNP has developed a habit of adopting Labour policies in recent months - including a dedicated bursary to attract more graduates to train as science, technology, engineering or mathematics teachers. Ministers should go a step further and take on board Labour’s plan to stop the cuts and give teachers a better deal.”


13 October 2017

There is a huge gap in the levels of physical activity between the richest and poorest in Scotland, Labour can reveal today.

There is an 18-point gap between the percentage of adults participating in physical activity, from sports to walking, between the richest and poorest groups.

69 per cent of people from the poorest backgrounds have taken part in some sort of physical or sporting activity in the past four weeks compared to 87 per cent from the most affluent.

Labour’s figures come from analysis of the 2016 Scottish Household Survey. It follows the 2016 Health survey which highlighted the link between deprivation and ill health.

Labour said the figures show the need for radical action to close the inequality gap in society, and the failing approach of the SNP towards public health policy.

The party also said the gap was a further reason for Derek Mackay to resist calls to charge council leisure centres business rates.

Scottish Labour’s public health spokesperson Colin Smyth said:

“These figures show the challenges our health service will face in years to come unless SNP ministers get their act together on public health.

“We know there is a link between deprivation and ill health, and we can now identify a clear ’activity gap’ between the richest and the poorest. We need to see some credible action to close this gap, or our NHS will simply shoulder an even greater burden for years to come.

“The SNP government should commission a review into the impact of austerity on physical activity. £1.5 billion cut from local council budgets in the past six years will have hammered local sports clubs and community groups, making it harder for people to access facilities.

“These figures show a sluggishness from the SNP in dealing with Scotland’s deep routed health inequalities. Even when it comes to taking a 30 minute walk there is a 20 point divide between our most and least deprived communities.

“Taking steps to close the activity gap now will boost public health for years to come – and ease the pressure on our NHS.”


9 October 2017

Responding to Nicola Sturgeon's refusal to rule out another independence referendum before 2021, Scottish Labour business manager James Kelly said:

“The Nationalists seem unable to accept the result in June.

“The voters sent Nicola Sturgeon a message loud and clear in the general election - when the SNP lost almost half its MPs – that they do not want another divisive independence referendum.

“It is time the First Minister listened to that message and ruled out another divisive referendum for the duration of this parliament.”


8 October 2017

Responding to John Swinney's announcement at SNP conference today, Scottish Labour education spokesperson Iain Gray said:

"Hardly a day goes by now without the SNP U-turning and giving into Labour demands.

"Scotland's schools are blighted with a teaching shortage, with 4,000 fewer teachers since the SNP came to power, and urgent action is needed.

"We welcome John Swinney adopting one of the policies from our ten point plan for Scotlands schools, and look forward to him seeing the sense of the other nine too."


8 October 2017

A decade of SNP government has left Scotland divided, a new briefing from Scottish Labour reveals.

As SNP conference begins in Glasgow today (Sunday) a new briefing from Scottish Labour examines the Nationalists’ record on the economy, education and health.

It finds:

- Tax decisions favouring the richest.

- Spending cuts hurting the poorest.

- An attainment gap in our classrooms.

- A health service at ‘breaking point'.

Labour said the challenge for Nicola Sturgeon is to present a bold and radical agenda that uses the powers of the Scottish Parliament to stop austerity.

Interim Scottish Labour leader Alex Rowley said:

“As of October 2017, the SNP government has been in power for a decade. The legacy of that decade is one of division.

“Not just on the question of independence but an unacceptable divide between the richest and the poorest Scots.

“The SNP has made decisions in government which have divided Scotland between the rich and the poor in key areas such as tax, health and education.

“Nicola Sturgeon promised she would champion the poor and would make education her top priority to stop falling standards. She has done neither.

“It is only Labour which offers a positive vision for Scotland that works for the many, not the privileged few. Labour would do what the SNP has refused to do – use the tax powers of the Scottish Parliament to protect public services and deliver a fairer country.

“As Nicola Sturgeon prepares to address SNP conference this week, she should reflect on how she has divided Scotland – and outline a plan to bring Scotland together. If she cannot, Labour will.”

Alex Rowley MSP : Speech to Labour Party conference

25th. September 2017



24 September 2017

The average Scottish household is £500 worse off since the Tories came to power.

Analysis from Scottish Labour as UK Labour conference begins reveals that average household income today stands at £24,336.

In 2009/10 - the last year before the Tories came to power but in the immediate aftermath of the global financial crisis household income was £24,846.

This is income available to households after taxes, including council tax and income tax, are paid and all benefits and tax credits have been received.

Labour said the figure exposed the Tories economic mismanagement of the UK, and that the tax and benefit changes the Tories have pushed through have not boosted the pay packets of working people.

Scottish Labour leader Alex Rowley said:

"The Tories used to boast about a long term economic plan - in reality Scottish households are over £500 a year worse off.

"A Labour Government, in the immediate aftermath of a global financial crisis, did more to protect living standards that the Tories have.

"Tax cuts for the wealthy and big business may please the Tories around the cabinet table but they do nothing to boost the incomes of working class families.

"Only Labour has a plan to make our country work for the many rather than the privileged few. With a £10 minimum wage, ending the benefits freeze and investing in Scotland through a National Investment Bank to create good quality jobs we can reverse the cost of the Tories.

Back to previous page