Person Stenhouse: NHS and nurses’ unfairness of £ 500 reward


Often a government does something so crass that it exposes itself as grubby and dishonorable instantly, exploiting the people whose interests it is paying to represent — us. The thing it exposes is huge sometimes and it’s small sometimes – it’s £ 500 this time for the SNP government in Scotland.

Everything about the £ 500 bonus announced by Nicola Sturgeon for hospital and care staff – and the policy came from her own mouth and should not be blamed on Boris Johnson – is incorrect. Where it was revealed, who gets it, why it is charged and when, the British government’s heavy-handed political trap set, the machinations when that trap caught the First Minister by the leg herself.

This nonsense dreamed up about what pillow or breakfast table? Offer £ 500 to all health and care staff, announce it at the party conference so everybody knows it’s just an SNP election voucher, and ask the hideous tawrees to pay tax on it-which they won’t, and then they’re going to look ugly and we’re going to look great-hurrah. False, incorrect on any stage.

Where it was revealed, first. Not in the Scottish Parliament, but at the conference of the SNP party. The first minister and her husband, the leader of the party, are now widening the boundaries of legitimacy about what they have not addressed and what they do not recall about Alex Salmond’s accusations of sexual assault. Didn’t they learn anything? A bonus declared in Parliament by the Minister in charge of those who worked hard in an extraordinarily tough year seems like government policy. The same announcement made at her party conference by Nicola Sturgeon, and thus obviously in the position of party leader rather than first minister, looks like a political bribe.

The second thing that is wrong is a substantial sum of money being misapplied – well over £ 100 million. A £ 500 award seems rather inappropriate for the nurse who fought to save lives in the ICU, or for the tired and massively underpaid nurse, but most of the NHS did less in 2020 than it did in 2019. Why did the special award not concentrate on those who had to work particularly hard to earn them a substantial amount?

To ensure the payment was tax-free, the most objectionable part of the not-so-clever scheme was to throw down the gauntlet to the UK government. Since the tax paid by Scottish taxpayers is income for the Scottish government, it is the latter that will gross the incentive payout such that the sum paid after tax is £ 500 – at no net expense to the Scottish government and without having to do anything for the UK government. On the part of the SNP, this cheap strategy of presenting the Scottish government as generous and the UK government as average was shabby. It is not just incorrect in itself, it exemplifies the repetitive argument of the SNP that it does not have the authority or the means to do so. This is not valid – it regulates our education, health and transport systems – but in all of these fields, without distinction. The income tax is among the taxes that it regulates. When it doesn’t deserve it, the Scottish government takes credit and deflects blame when it shouldn’t. Our companies and people deserve our devolved government’s honesty, not an endless quest for stuff to argue with the UK government about.

Lastly, and pathetically, when the SNP high command discovered that their carefully designed scheme was not so strategically clever after all, the twisting and turning. Yeah, for three years, we wouldn’t get the tax back on the invoice – so what? The name is a clue: insurance for the country, the British nation, which lent the money and distributed it equally in the UK to pay the bills in the pandemic of Covid 19. Ah, but don’t forget the National Insurance received and held by the evil Tawree Treasury.

Person Stenhouse is a financial sector Scottish veteran who formerly wrote as Pinstripe


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