Election 2015 Scotland

Election 2015: Parties focus on health and women

Nurses on a hospital ward
Image caption NHS spending will be a key issue raised during campaigning

Scottish parties have focused on women, the NHS and taxes as election campaigning continues.

The Scottish Labour party has targeted the female vote with the launch of its manifesto for women in Glasgow.

In Edinburgh, the SNP challenged Labour to match their NHS spending plans, with health budgets also a key issue for the Scottish Conservatives.

And the Scottish Liberal Democrats said their plans to fight tax evasion would allow them to boost NHS funding.

Margaret Curran, Yvette Cooper and Kezia Dugdale launched Scottish Labour's women's manifesto, pledging to stop cuts to tax credits.

Ms Curran warned the SNP's plans for full fiscal autonomy could see the benefit cut by £806, which she said would affect women and families.

She 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."

The women's manifesto also includes:

  • Guaranteeing a paid job for every 18 to 24-year old woman out of work for more than a year.
  • Using devolved powers to introduce a 50% quota for women on public boards.
  • Forcing companies with more than 250 employees to report their pay gap.
Image caption Labour's Yvette Cooper visited a nursery in Glasgow to launch her party's manifesto for women
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon challenged Labour to match the SNP's NHS funding pledge while campaigning in Edinburgh
Image caption Danny Alexander met residents in sheltered accommodation in Gordon to outline the Liberal Democrats tax plans
Image caption Jackson Carlaw set out Scottish Conservative plans for a week of free respite for carers

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon challenged the Labour Party to match the SNP's commitment to increase the NHS budget across the UK by £9.5bn above inflation.

She said: "Our NHS is our most important public resource and the SNP will do everything we can to ensure that it is properly funded and protected as a public service. That's why we've been clear that we will vote to boost NHS funding by £9.5bn across the UK - delivering a total increase for Scotland's NHS of £2bn.

"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."

'Unsung heroes'

On the same theme, Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw highlighted his party's plans to boost NHS spending in Scotland by £800m a year.

This included a pledge to secure a fully-funded week of respite for carers who look after someone for more than 50 hours a week.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionWillie Rennie: "If people want that moderate centre-ground approach, economic progress, combined with fairness, they choose the Lib Dems."

Speaking ahead of a visit to a care home in East Renfrewshire, he said: "Carers are the unsung heroes of our society, of that there is no question. Without their dedication our public services would collapse under the weight of so many demands.

"That's why it's so important we give them all the support we can. A fully funded week of respite can help them take some time for themselves and recharge the batteries."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, said his party's plans to cut tax avoidance and tax evasion would free up £800m to invest in the NHS in Scotland and increase spending on early years education.

Speaking to BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, he said he believed no party would win an overall majority in the general election and a strong SNP were a threat to the country.

He said: "The choice at the election is straight forward. Who do we want to have the biggest influence in the next parliament?

"We don't want to veer off to the left with the SNP or veer off to the right with the Tories."

He added: "The alternative choice is the Liberal Democrats holding the centre ground."

Voters across the UK go to the polls on 7 May.

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