Daily Political Media Summary: 24 March 2009

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.

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Economy

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Tax Credits: A report by the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons accuses the tax credit system of putting the most vulnerable families on ‘a financial rollercoaster’ as the most recent annual figures show £4.3 billion remaining in overpayments, £1 billion written off and another £1.5 billion lost to error and fraud. (Herald page 1, Mail page 8)

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Inflation: There is much speculation about the level of inflation with the figures due out today. (Guardian page 1, FT, Telegraph, Times page 6)  

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Job Losses: The car, media and oil industries were among sectors of the economy to be hit by the economic downturn yesterday with Bristow Helicopters, which serves the offshore industry, warning it is to shed jobs, the Daily Mail saying it would cut around 1,000 jobs at its Northcliffe regional arm this year and Honda proposing a pay cut for its thousands of UK workers. (Herald page 5, P&J page 10)

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Aid for Highlands: The Scottish Government yesterday announced a package of 18 projects, funded by new EU money, worth £6 million to aid the Highlands and Islands. (Herald page 6)

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Property Developer Collapse: Mountgrange Capital, responsible for the £300 million Caltongate project, has reportedly gone into administration casting doubt over the future of the site in Edinburgh’s Old Town and the firm’s other major development in Scotland at Linwood, Renfrewshire. (Scotsman page 1, Times page 3)

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Dunfermline Building Society: A number of financial and legal issues are reportedly standing in the way of the government bail out of the Dunfermline Building Society. (Scotsman page 2, Bill Jamieson in The Scotsman page 35, Courier page 17, Times page 15, Express page 4)

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Crime

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Legal Aid: Lawyers in Scotland have been forced to repay £1.6million in wrongly claimed legal aid over the past six years. (Scotsman page 14)

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Crime Rise: The Record reports that robberies, break-ins and thefts from cars are all up with the credit crunch given as the reason for the increase. (Record page 1)

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Transport  

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Road Accidents: Statistics published by the Scottish Government yesterday showed that hundreds of people died and thousands more were injured in road traffic accidents across the north and north east of Scotland. (P&J page 1)

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Health

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Anti-Smoking Campaign: A scheme offering smokers £12.50 a week to stop was launched by Scottish Public Health Minister Shona Robison yesterday. (Herald page 4, Scotsman page 22, Courier page 6, P&J page 1, Mail page 10, Sun page 1)

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Ambulance Service: The Scottish Ambulance Service is to get more than £25 million to spend on new vehicles the Scottish Government announced yesterday. (Herald page 12, Scotsman page 21, P&J page 7, Record page 9)

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Cancer Care: The latest Eurocare study on survival rates for those with cancer in Europe shows Scotland lagging behind some of the best performing countries. (Scotsman page 10, Guardian page 15, Mail page 8, Express page 10)

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Education

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Private/Public Partnership: A Scottish independent school, Glenalmond College, is to work with a local state primary to boost science teaching. (Scotsman page 23)

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Tuition Fees: A comment piece in The Scotsman by John Haldane argues for the introduction of tuition fees for Scottish students. (Scotsman page 28)

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Politics

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MPs’ Expenses: Gordon Brown has backed the review announced by the Westminster standards watchdog and requested that it be extended to cover MPs having second jobs which is reportedly designed to gain a political advantage over David Cameron.  Some MPs are also asking for a £40,000 pay rise as a solution to the expenses problem. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 6, Courier page 13, P&J page 5, Guardian page 5, FT page 2, Telegraph page 1, Mail page 1, Record page 2, Express page 7, Sun page 2)

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Ken Clarke Gaffe: Comment on the Tories’ problems in the wake of Ken Clarke’s comments that the policy of raising the Inheritance Tax threshold was now merely an ‘aspiration.’ (Herald page 6, Scotsman page 13, Guardian page 14, FT page 2, Telegraph page 8, Times page 11, Record page 2, Express page 15, Sun page 2)

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China Trips: Alan Cochrane in The Telegraph comments on the two ministerial trips to China. (Telegraph page 4)