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Scottish election 2021: SNP launch ‘transformational’ manifesto

Nicola Sturgeon outlined plans to significantly increase NHS spending and scrap dentist fees

NICOLA STURGEON claimed that her party’s manifesto for May’s election would be “transformational” today as she outlined plans to significantly increase NHS spending and scrap dentist fees. 

The First Minister unveiled the SNP’s plans for the next Holyrood, pledging not to push for another referendum on independence until after the pandemic. 

Ms Sturgeon outlined a £2.5 billion increase in NHS spending in the next five years if her party is re-elected on May 6, along with an £800 million boost in social care funding.

NHS dentistry charges will be scrapped, at an initial cost of £75m a year and then rising to £100m annually as demand grows, and government-supported childcare will be expanded to one- and two-year-olds.

The rates of income tax will also be frozen over the next parliamentary term if Ms Sturgeon is re-elected to continue serving as first minister.

She insisted that the spending commitments in the manifesto, which total about £6bn, are affordable, as they come in “slightly below” the central assumptions made for the Scottish government’s Budget for the coming years.

Ms Sturgeon, who claimed any push for a vote on Scotland’s constitutional future would be a “dereliction” of her duty as first minister, said: “As we recover, we have the opportunity to reimagine our country.

“In this manifesto the SNP is setting out a serious programme for serious times. It is practical but unashamedly optimistic and it is transformational in its ambition.”

Scottish Labour hit out at the possibility of the SNP returning to power, raising the nationalists’ “failures” in their 14 years in power. 

Speaking after the manifesto launch, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said that the SNP’s record “doesn’t stand up to scrutiny,” pointing to a “litany of failures” on the NHS, industry and child poverty. 

“Those failures have meant one in four children live in poverty under the SNP’s watch,” he said. 

“That is why this election is so important, because if we return an SNP majority government their eye is going to be off the ball again as they’ll be focused on their own priority, not the country’s priorities. 

“That is why we need to try and stop an SNP majority and have an opposition that is worthy of the name.”

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