SNP Candidate for Greenock and Inverclyde Stuart McMillan has outlined the party’s pledge to protect key universal benefits over the next five years if elected in May – and has called on all parties to back the SNP’s plans.
Since coming to office the SNP has abolished tuition fees for university; increased childcare provision by 45 per cent; expanded free school meals; extended the free bus pass; scrapped prescription charges; and maintained free personal and nursing care.
In contrast the Scottish Tories support the re-introduction of charges for prescriptions and back-door tuition fees for universities. Over the past five years Scottish Labour has held a number of positions on the issue and has offered no commitment in this campaign to protect key social policies.
Commenting, Stuart McMillan said:
“The philosophy of universalism – that is, from the cradle to the grave, from each according to ability to pay to each according to need – is a fundamental component of Scotland’s political identity and it is vital that this principle is protected.
“Over the past nine years the SNP government has protected and extended a number of key social benefits – using tax revenue responsibly to pay for policies that protect people’s incomes and mitigate the impact of Tory austerity.
“We have scrapped university tuition fees – saving students up to £27,000 compared to students in England and helping young people reach their full potential.
“For older people we have maintained the free concessionary bus pass and have extended it to injured veterans.
“We have returned our NHS to its founding values by restoring free prescriptions, saving those with long-term conditions over £100 per year compared with people in England, and we have ensured our most vulnerable pensioners continue to get the personal and nursing care they need without any financial burden.
“A re-elected SNP government will not just protect the gains of devolution, we will use our new powers to go further, ensuring taxpayers across Scotland receive the benefit of their investment in Scotland’s future.
“If re-elected we will double free early years and childcare provision; and extend free meals to children in our nurseries.
“Support for universal benefits from other parties has been inconsistent, half-hearted or non-existent. Only by casting both votes SNP can voters in Inverclyde guarantee a government resolute in its support for these social gains, a government that will move beyond mitigating austerity and deliver a bold vision for Scotland.”