Daily Political Media Summary: 21 July 2009

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Media Summary: 21 July 2009

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions. Where there is a link to a newspaper’s website, the relevant page reference is blue and underlined.

 Economy

Treasury: Billions of pounds of public money is being lost in fraud or error in the tax credit system, and billions more have been put at risk saving the banks from collapse, leading government auditors to qualify the Treasury accounts for the first time in its 350-year history. (Herald page 1, Telegraph page 12, Courier page 3, FT page 3)

 Super Banks: Competition watchdogs would be asked by a Conservative government to investigate whether the new Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland super banks should be broken up. Shadow Chancellor George Osborne made the revelations as he warned that there was not enough competition in the banking market for consumers. (Scotsman page 9)

 Quarriers: Quarriers, one of Scotland\’s biggest charities, has threatened to dismiss all of its 2,000 workers unless they agree to cuts in wages and conditions, according to a trade union. Care-sector union Unison has condemned Quarriers after it threatened on Friday to issue redundancy notices to its entire staff. (Herald page 3)

Taxes: The UK Government\’s tax take plummeted by £32bn last year in further evidence of the perilous state of public finances. Figures from HM Revenue and Customs showed that the combined totals from income tax, national insurance, VAT, stamp duty, corporation tax and other levies fell by £21.7bn as the economic downturn hit. (Herald page 6, Times page 3)

Tennent’s: The Scottish Government and opposition parties have demanded answers from the drinks giant that owns Tennent\’s Wellpark Brewery in Glasgow about the future of the site. (Herald page 8, Times page 14, Telegraph page 8)

Sterling: Sterling yesterday hit a three-month high against the dollar on the back of new data suggesting the UK housing market is continuing to stabilise – although many currency watchers believe the pound remains poised for further falls. Upbeat news from property website Rightmove said there were growing signs the past year\’s price falls have bottomed out, and the Council of Mortgage Lenders also said gross lending had hit a six-month high in June. (Herald page 27)

Housing Market: Mortgage lending rose to its highest level since December last month with a 17% rise in advances, figures showed yesterday. A total of £12.3 billion was loaned during June thanks to a seasonal pick-up in house-buying activity, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. (Press and Journal page 5)

Transport

Aberdeen Bypass: Final recommendations on the exact route of Aberdeen’s long-awaited western bypass have been delivered to the Scottish Government, it has emerged. A report on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) has been submitted to Holyrood ministers following a 10-week public inquiry at the end of last year. (Press and Journal page 6)

Health

Budget Cuts: Nicola Sturgeon has warned that cuts will have to be made in Scottish health spending unless the UK Government releases contingency funding to help cover the cost of a swine flu vaccine. However, the Health Secretary stressed yesterday that money would be freed up from the Scottish Government\’s own budget in order to prioritise the vaccination programme. (Herald page 5, Press and Journal page 5, Courier page 1)

Education

Class Sizes: The SNP\’s election promise to cut class sizes is "in tatters"; it was claimed last night, as education secretary Fiona Hyslop prepared to sign an agreement with a council which excludes the pledge. Ms Hyslop is due to sign the Single Outcome Agreement (SOA) today with North Lanarkshire Council – its blueprint of aims and objectives for the next few years. (Scotsman page 2)

Politics

By-election: The SNP have urged Labour to call a by-election in the seat being vacated by Commons speaker Michael Martin before MPs take their summer break. Nationalist candidate David Kerr, a former TV news presenter, was joined by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as the party launched its campaign in the Glasgow North East constituency yesterday. (Herald page 6)

Public Spending: More voters trust the Conservatives than Labour on public spending, according to a poll that is a blow to Gordon Brown’s election plans. (Times page 1, Telegraph page 13)

Conservative White Paper: David Cameron today accused the UK Government of a "policy failure of historic proportions" as he unveiled plans to abolish the Financial Services Authority and divide its responsibilities between a beefed-up Bank of England and a new consumer protection body in a White Paper on banking today.  (Guardian page 23, FT page 3)