14 November 2019

Scotland’s public services need “a decade of investment under Labour, not the decade of cuts” promised by the SNP, Richard Leonard has said after a damning report revealed 90 per cent of social work team staff are considering leaving the sector.

At First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Labour leader Mr Leonard put Nicola Sturgeon on the spot over her statement last night that she would vote down a Labour government which did not agree to her timetable on independence.

Mr Leonard told the First Minister: Scotland’s services desperately need investment.

“Investment that you have failed to deliver, but a Labour Government will.

"But last night you threatened to bring down a Labour government.

“So why don’t you admit that what Scotland needs is a decade of investment under Labour - not the decade of cuts prescribed in your blueprint for independence?”

Mr Leonard also cited new figures published by the charity Education Support which this week revealed that more than a third of education sector workers in Scotland have experienced mental health issues in the past twelve months. More than half of Scotland’s education workers have considered leaving the sector.

Mr Leonard said: “After more than twelve years of the SNP in office, Scotland’s schools have faced plummeting investment, and a recruitment and workload crisis.

"The health of our teachers is being harmed but so are our children’s education and life chances.”

Mr Leonard cited the Unison Scotland report, Save from Harm, which warns of a crisis in social services and reports that 90 per cent of staff are considering leaving the sector.

Mr Leonard related the account of a team member quoted in the report, who said:

“We are under pressure to hit savings targets.

"Many staff are stressed to the point of their own health being compromised resulting in higher risk of poor care… Time spent with vulnerable adults is too short. So many are lonely and depressed. Many staff work extra hours without pay, just to get jobs done.”

A UK Labour government would mean at least an additional £3 billion a year in Barnett consequentials for Scotland's public services - part of more than £70 billion that will be invested in Scotland over a decade.

Mr Leonard said the voices of public service workers “deserve to be listened to”, adding:

“Two weeks ago, I raised with the First Minister the growing crisis of mental health, stress and anxiety among NHS workers.

“Today the human cost to Scotland’s education workers and social work teams is also plain to see.

"Isn’t it clear that these working people and the people who depend on the critical services they provide are being let down because of decisions that you have made?”
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