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Reinstate Caithness healthcare cash, MP Jamie Stone says after budget cash released

By John Davidson

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Jamie Stone has called for health projects to be resumed after the budget announcement. Picture: Alan Hendry
Jamie Stone has called for health projects to be resumed after the budget announcement. Picture: Alan Hendry

Money coming to Scotland from Barnett Consequentials after the UK government's budget should be used to reinstate NHS projects, the far north MP said.

Jamie Stone criticised the Chancellor's budget, which was announced on Wednesday, but said there were some positives.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt delivered his Spring Statement in the House of Commons revealing that the Scottish Government will get an additional £295 million in Barnett Consequentials.

The budget also included a freeze on alcohol duty but Mr Stone, the Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, said the UK government has missed an opportunity to deal with unfair energy charges.

"This was a budget for a demoralised government, a Conservative Party out of ideas," said Mr Stone. "It was a real disappointment to see that the Chancellor made no recognition of the greater cost of keeping our homes warm.

"Fuel poverty existed in the Highlands long before the cost-of-living crisis, and it will exist for long after if the UK government does not acknowledge the discrepancy in energy costs in rural areas.

"The Chancellor missed the chance to put right an ugly unfairness that sees our citizens being treated unfairly depending on where in the UK they live."

On the additional Barnett Consequentials, he added: "I sincerely hope that the Scottish Government uses this money to right the wrongs it committed in its own budget just last week, including huge cuts to the housing budget and plans to stall at least a dozen NHS projects, including revamps of Caithness General Hospital and the maternity ward at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness."

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