NHS And Low Paid On Campaign Agenda

22 April 2015, 06:00 | Updated: 22 April 2015, 07:56

NHS funding and plans to help workers on low incomes will be on the agenda as parties hit the General Election campaign trail today.

The SNP will insist that protecting the NHS is at the heart of their proposals, while the Conservatives will claim that a Tory vote is essential for a strong health service.

Labour will say only it can protect women and their families from cuts to tax credits, while the Liberal Democrats will highlight plans to give workers a £400 income tax cut.

Campaigning will get off to an early start first of all in Aberdeen, with an energy hustings event attended by candidates from five key parties.

Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and Labour's Dame Anne Begg will be joined by local candidates from the Scottish Greens, Conservatives and SNP for a debate in the energy capital.

Event chairwoman Trisha O'Reilly of Oil & Gas UK said: "The candidates' views on the role that oil and gas will play in the country's future energy mix and economy will be of great interest to the assembled audience and the wider industry workforce and stakeholders.''

Further south, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will campaign in Edinburgh and call on Labour to "match the SNP's commitment to boosting the NHS budget across the UK''.

The SNP has said it will use its influence at Westminster after the election to boost the NHS budget across the UK by a total of £24 billlion, meaning a total increase for Scotland's NHS of £2 billion.

Ms Sturgeon said: "The SNP's plans for modest public spending increases would give our NHS staff the support they need and ensure our health service continues to deliver a first-class service for patients - Labour in Scotland now need to back our plans on the health service or explain to people why they are more committed to cuts than to our NHS.''

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw will visit a care home in East Renfrewshire to highlight his party's plans for health spending.

He said: "The Conservatives have pledged to put an additional £8 billion a year into the NHS. That means an extra £800 million for Scotland's hospitals and care facilities.

"Only with a strong economy can you have a strong NHS, and that's why a vote for the Conservatives is so essential.''

Following his appearance at the hustings in Aberdeen, Mr Alexander will visit staff and residents at sheltered housing accommodation in the Gordon constituency.

Joined by local candidate Christine Jardine, he will highlight Lib Dem plans to give workers a £400 income tax cut.

He will challenge the other parties on their tax plans and say only the Liberal Democrats have a costed plan to deliver for workers on low and middle incomes.

Labour's shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran will launch her party's women's manifesto in the east end of Glasgow.

She is expected to warn that the SNP's plans for full fiscal autonomy mean an £806 a year cut to tax credits - cuts which they claim would affect women disproportionately.

Ms Curran said: "Tax credits protect people on low incomes and they lift people out of poverty. They are one of the last Labour Government's greatest legacies. Labour will protect tax credits, with increases every year in line with inflation, supporting hard working families.

She added: "The SNP's plans for full fiscal autonomy - which they committed to in their manifesto - means cuts of £806 a year to tax credits.  That's £15 a week for every family. Women can't afford these cuts. All the evidence suggests these cuts will fall disproportionately on women.''