Daily Political Media Summary: 17 September 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 17 September 2009

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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.

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Economy

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Unemployment: Unemployment in Scotland has risen by 67 per cent in the past year as official statistics revealed that 187,000 people are now out of work in Scotland. The ranks of the unemployed in Scotland have swelled to their highest levels in almost a decade, according to figures showing 75,000 people have lost their jobs since last year, when unemployment stood at 112,000. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 3, Telegraph page B1, Times page 11, FT page 2, Courier page 1, Press and Journal page 12, STV)

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Super Banks: More building societies could be forced into mergers because of unfair competition from the giant Lloyds Banking Group, a Scottish parliamentary inquiry heard yesterday. MSPs on Holyrood’s economy committee, commencing an inquiry into why Scottish banks and the Dunfermline Building Society had failed in last year’s financial crisis, heard that the last two years had been humbling for the financial services industry. But there was criticism of Scottish Financial Enterprise, the industry’s representative organisation, for failing to make any mention of the taxpayer-funded bail-out of the two biggest Scottish banks. (Times page 22)

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Crime

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Violent Prisoners: Dangerous prisoners are struggling to access a scheme to wean them off violence, Scotland\’s new jail watchdog warned yesterday. Brigadier Hugh Monro said "resourcing" problems meant high-risk offenders were not always getting the rehabilitation programmes that they needed. (Scotsman page 15, Herald page 4, Courier page 8, Press and Journal page 1, BBC, STV)

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Transport 

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Edinburgh Trams: Transdev, the French company hired to operate the capital\’s trams more than five years ago, is thought to be on the verge of being ditched as part of a major shake-up of the £500 million project. Instead, the trams would be operated by the new company due to be formed through a planned merger of Lothian Buses, the city\’s main bus operator, and Transport Initiatives Edinburgh, the council-owned firm in charge of the project. (Scotsman page 17)

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Local Government

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Budget: Scotland\’s councils are facing the prospect of job losses and cuts in services as a result of renewed pressure on already-tight resources. In evidence to a Holyrood committee, local authority chiefs told MSPs a significant fall in revenues coupled with soaring bills had now made cuts almost inevitable. (Scotsman page 1)

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Glasgow City Council: A major row has broken out after the leader of Scotland’s largest local authority accused the Scottish Government of “a crude political decision to allocate money to its heartlands”. Steven Purcell’s outburst came after he was told of plans by the SNP administration to hand £3m to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire councils. It follows concessions worth £3m won by Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald for Edinburgh last year as a Capital City Supplement in exchange for her backing Finance Secretary John Swinney’s budget. (Herald page 1)

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Health

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Alcohol: Deaths linked to alcohol in some areas of Scotland are six times higher than the UK average, new figures reveal. The figures showed that in 64 of the 73 Scottish Parliament constituencies, the number of drink-related deaths was higher than the UK average of 14.7 deaths per 100,000 people. The Scottish average is 27.3 deaths per 100,000 for 2008 (Scotsman page 4, Herald page 5, Telegraph page 1, Times page 12, Courier page 1, Press and Journal page 7)

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Politics

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Devolution: Plans to give Scottish ministers new financial powers, possibly including control over income tax, are to be announced by the UK Government this autumn. The proposals will reportedly draw on the Calman Commission’s recommendations which would make MSPs more accountable for their spending, with income tax rates for Scottish workers reduced by 10p in the pound. Holyrood ministers would have the power to set and collect their own tax. (Telegraph page 13, Courier page 9, Press and Journal page 3)

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Draft Budget: Gordon Brown and Alex Salmond clashed angrily yesterday over the exact amount of money the Scottish Government will have to spend when it reveals its draft budget for 2010/11 today. The tensions between Edinburgh and London on the issue spilled over into a meeting in London of the Joint Ministerial Committee, the body set up under devolution to govern relations between the UK government and devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Mr Salmond claimed at the meeting that for the first time in 17 years, the Scottish budget will reveal a real-terms decline in spending. (Times page 7, Courier page 10, Press and Journal page 1, BBC, STV)

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