[Pounds Sterling]27billion; Scotland's Appalling Health Record and Free Personal Care for the Elderly Sends Cost of Public Services through the Roof
Byline: Andrew Picken Scottish Political Reporter
THE cost of providing frontline public services used by millions of Scots is set to rocket by [pounds sterling]27billion over the next 15 years, a think-tank warned last night.
Scotland's appalling health record and an ageing population will send the cost of policies such as free personal care for the elderly soaring, according to the new report.
The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta) warns this looming shortfall, coupled with an expected [pounds sterling]42billion cut in the Scottish budget over the same period, means 'radical reform' of the country's bloated public sector is needed.
The report suggests more powers are handed to local councils, giving them financial incentives to make savings.
Nesta also recommends that money is diverted away from hospitals and prisons and put into preventing health problems and crime.
It is estimated that drink and drug-related illnesses will cost the Scottish Executive [pounds sterling]410million more per year by 2025 if no reforms are introduced.
In addition, soaring numbers of older people will push up costs by [pounds sterling]1.1billion per year within only six years.
Tory finance spokesman Derek Brownlee said: 'We have been arguing for years that reforming public services is the best way to protect them.
'Given the scale of the challenge we have to get through the financial mess Labour left, reforming public services is long overdue.'
The Nesta report warns that if nothing is done to tackle the soaring number of Scots prisonwarns then another seven jails would need to be built across the country within the next 25 years, with prison service running costs rising from [pounds sterling]200million to [pounds sterling]700million. …