Westminster’s health spending and sick pay is bleak, trailing far behind North West Europe

Shocking new independent analysis has revealed just how badly the UK government have been handling public health spending, with Westminster’s per-person health spending trailing miles behind that of our European neighbours.

The UK government’s failure to reform sick pay is forcing people back to work before they have recovered from ill health, whereas in other European nations more effective policies have been put in place to support those in need.

And thanks to Westminster’s hard Brexit, Scotland is missing out on the EU’s progressive enhancement of workers’ rights, which the Tories are refusing to replicate in UK law and Labour are refusing to support devolving to Scotland, so that the Scottish Parliament can take action.

Once again, Westminster incompetence and inaction has left Scotland behind. Here’s how other EU nations, of a similar size to Scotland, are outperforming Westminster when it comes to spending on healthcare and workers’ rights.

The UK’s health spending is lagging far behind our  European neighbours

An independent analysis, unnervingly reveals that the UK government’s per-person health spending is lower than that of nearly every other country in North West Europe- the UK government’s health spending in 2022 was £5,884 per person.

Shockingly, the UK is spending a third less per person on health than Germany, which spends £9,104 per person, and Norway, where health spending is £8,817 per person.

In 2022, the UK government’s health spending was only £5,884 per person, being outspent by a staggering £2,243 by the Netherlands and trailing behind many other countries across the EU – including countries of a similar size or smaller than Scotland, like Denmark, Luxembourg and Ireland.

Meanwhile the analysis shows that Scotland’s per person health spending is the highest out of all UK nations.

In 2021/2022, the SNP government spent almost 10% more per person on health than the Tory government spent in England and in 2022/2023 Scotland’s health spending stands at £19 billion – that’s an increase of over 90%, in cash terms, under the SNP (since 2006/2007).

The analysis is even more concerning when looked at historically, showing that the UK government has spent less per person on healthcare than the average across North West Europe in every single year of the 21st century – between 2000 and 2022, the UK government spent around a fifth (19%) less per person on health than the North West European average.

The UK’s statutory sick pay is abysmal and an affront to human dignity

Independent analysis sadly shows that Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in the UK has been cut by almost a tenth (8.84%) in real terms since the Tories came to power.

In 2009/2010, sick pay was worth £120.01 a week in 2023/2024 prices, whereas now it’s only worth £109.40 a week, a reduction of £10.61.

The research also shows that UK sick pay is drastically worse than other countries in north west Europe, with the UK’s rate being worth just 18% of average weekly gross pay thanks to Westminster’s policy of setting low flat rates for employer-paid statutory sick pay.

Unlike workers in the UK, in countries such as Switzerland, Norway, Austria, Luxembourg, Germany and Belgium, employees receive 100% of their total wages for periods ranging from a few months to years.

In Switzerland, workers receive a 100% of wages as sick pay for up to two years, in Norway it’s a year, in Austria it’s up to twelve weeks, in Luxembourg it’s eleven weeks, in Germany it’s six weeks, and in Belgium it’s up to a month.

In Sweden workers are entitled to 80% of their wage for a year, and in the Netherlands workers are entitled to 70% of their wage for up to two years.

Sick pay in the UK does not provide security for people during times of ill health. The last thing people facing ill health need is the added worry of financial pressure. Not only does the UK’s low flat sick rate force people to decide between coming to work ill or making ends meet, but it also negatively affects their recovery from illness.

Scotland is missing out on the EU’s enhancement of workers’ rights because of Westminster’s hard Brexit

Brexit is having catastrophic effects on Scotland’s economy and workforce, and it has also prevented Scotland from benefiting from the EU’s enhancement of workers’ rights.

The European Union delivered employee benefits to gig economy workers, like Uber and Deliveroo drivers, untying them from the constraints of self-employment status and allowing them basic employment rights, such as minimum wage, holidays and sick leave.

Westminster continues to fail in protecting workers’ rights as the self-employed don’t qualify for sick pay under UK employment law.

Labour and the Tories continue to shun the breadth of opportunity Scotland has to successfully build a better Scotland alike the strengths of our North West European neighbours.

Scotland can develop health spending, progress sick pay and protect workers’ rights better than the UK through securing an independent Scotland. Only with independence and by voting SNP can Scotland rid itself from the limitations of Westminster power and rejoin the EU.