Tuesday, 16 September 2014
Scottish NHS Funding Goes Bananas
The NHS (or fruit and veg) problem as explained to my 8 year old whilst we were shopping:
People in England need to go shopping just like us but there are lots more of them, so they need to buy lots more stuff and that costs lots more money. This is simple - yes? (8 year old nods) Good.
At the moment, all the money from Scotland gets sent to London and when we need to go shopping, we have to ask for that money back again. It's a bit silly but it's how things work at the moment, so let's just accept it for a few minutes!
(Because the 10 x table is easy for 8 year olds we shall simplify the figures a bit but the premise is the same.)
Let's say for every £1000 England spends on its shopping, we can spend £100, so if England spends £2000, we can spend £200 and so on - so far my 8 year old has this.
Now, it's true, England can't tell us how much meat, fruit, cereal or washing powder to buy -if we want to blow the whole lot on Marshmallows, we can do that (eyes light up) but that would be very very dumb.
We can cook our meat however we want, steam our veg instead of boil, go organic or buy the savers options, it is our choice - but we can't spend any more money than what we get. (there is much frowning at this point)
The problem is, if England decides it isn't going to buy fruit and veg anymore because someone else has set up a shop where the English people themselves can go and buy it - well that means that without Fruit and Veg in the trolley, the English shopping will cost a lot less.
And if the English shopping costs less - 8 year old nods - then Scotland gets less to spend on its shopping too.
Now - we can still spend as much of our budget on fruit and veg as we like. We can steam, fry, boil, eat raw, skin on or whatever. We can even spend the whole lot on fruit and veg if we want to but then what about meat, washing powder, bread, milk, eggs, dairy...8 year old interrupts - "Mum what about salted caramel ice-cream??!!! Please don't say we can't have the salted caramel ice-cream." I agree with her absolutely - such a sacrifice is just barbaric!!!
So, if England spent £100 from their £1000 on fruit and veg but then dropped it, that would leave them with a spend of....pause for 8 year old...yup...£900.
And because we get 10% of that amount to spend, that means we now have £90 instead of £100.
But the problem is we don't want to stop spending on fruit and veg and we don't want the people of Scotland to have to pay for it themselves from a different shop either because they've already paid for the fruit and veg through their taxes.
So we are going to have to choose something else to take out of the trolley. Whether it's the milk, the eggs or the tin foil, I don't know, but we can't spend more than we get, so it has to be something.
8 year old looks pleadingly "what about the salted caramel ice cream mummy?"
Well honey - that's probably the first thing that'll go - and to be honest, from what some (who already enjoyed all the salted caramel ice cream they could eat) have said - that could well be the end of your free education.
We have choices to make. Very tough ones. But let's make them for ourselves and work out what we need to spend on and how we are going to raise the money to pay for it.
My generation loathed the milk snatcher but if you make my daughter grow up in a Scotland without salted caramel ice cream, Lord help you, the revolution will not come with club card points.