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Daily Political Media Summary: 18 November 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 18 November 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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Recession: The Fraser of Allander Institute has announced Scotland is expected to emerge from recession by the end of the year but will almost certainly suffer a deeper recession and a slower recovery than the rest of the UK. The report outlines that Scotland has suffered from the combination of tight bank lending, a battered financial services sector, a large public sector and an under-sized manufacturing base. The report also argues Alex Salmond’s ambitious target of raising the growth rate of the Scottish economy to UK levels by 2011 is now “extremely unlikely” to be met with unemployment in Scotland set to rise by 40,000 to 234,000 next year. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Daily Telegraph page 12, Times page 8, Press and Journal page 16, Courier page 7, Financial Times page 2, Daily Express page 4, BBC)

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 Fiscal Autonomy: A Treasury report claims Scottish business would be hit by a £500 million tax bombshell if Scotland had fiscal autonomy. The study also claims that the cost of compliance in a fully separate tax system under independence would double to £1 billion.  The SNP has, however, dismissed the document as being ‘short on facts’ as the report admits that it is difficult to get an accurate figure for the cost of compliance. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 6, Daily Telegraph page 1, Press and Journal page 1, Courier page 10, Daily Mail page 2, BBC)

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 Retail Sales:  Doubts remain over a sustained recovery of Scottish retail sales, despite a 1.5 per cent increase in like-for-like sales in October, matching September’s year-on-year rise which suggests Scottish customers are regaining their shopping habit. (Scotsman page B2, Herald page 24, Daily Express page 4)

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 Crime

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Youth Violence:  Dr Ross Deuchar from the University of Strathclyde has argued that efforts to curb youth violence are too focused on Glasgow and need to be redirected throughout the country. This comes after two girls aged 13 and 14 along with a boy aged 13 were sentenced to four years detention each for an attack on a 14-year-old girl in Edinburgh. (Scotsman page 14)

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 Transport 

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Forth Bridge:  Business groups have warned that if disputes between Holyrood and the Treasury over payment of the £2.3 billion for the Forth Road Crossing are not resolved then motorists could face disastrous delays in their journeys. Scottish ministers insist, however, that the project is “on time and on budget” but fail to specify how it will be paid for in legislation approving the project. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 6, Daily Telegraph page 10, Times page 15, Press and Journal page 9, Courier page 1, Sun page 2, Daily Express page 2)

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 Forth Ferry:  A new public transport service across the Firth of Forth is to be put out to tender. Initial plans look to favour a ferry service, but alternative options include a hovercraft. (Scotsman page 17, BBC)

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 Health

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Stillbirth: Campaigners have presented a report to Holyrood calling for action to address the large number of babies in Scotland dying because of overstretched staff and pressure on NHS services coupled with a lack of research into still births. (Scotsman page 10, Times page 16, Courier page 11, BBC, STV)

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 Cancer:  Figures show that targets for quicker cancer treatment are still not being met in all parts of Scotland, with four health boards failing to meet the Scottish government target of 95 per cent of patients starting treatment within two months of urgent referral from their doctor. (Scotsman page 17, Herald, Courier page 9)

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 Diabetes: Groundbreaking cell transplant services could see Scottish patients with severe diabetes freed from daily injections of insulin, through a treatment that extracts the cells that produce insulin from a donated pancreas and then injects them into the patient’s liver. (Scotsman page 24, BBC)

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 Blindness: A new supplement carrying an anti-oxidant that slows macular degeneration thus staving off blindness has been launched in Scotland. The multi-vitamin will tackle a steep decline in the average consumption of lutein, which has fallen by half since the Second World War. (Herald page 9)

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 Local Government

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Council Resources: Councils across the south and east of Scotland are to follow the lead of their west coast counterparts with radical proposals to pool a raft of services in an attempt to save tens of millions of pounds. Plans would see road maintenance provided across local borders with one authority taking the lead, shared staff and one payroll system. (Herald page 1, Courier page 4)

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 Education

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Education cuts:  SNP ministers have raised concerns that the UK government may try to deny Scotland its £260 million share of the extra £2.6 billion for education ringfenced by Children’s Secretary Ed Balls in England and Wales. (Scotsman page 8)

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 Bullying: The director of Scotland’s anti-bullying service has called for schools to record all incidents of bullying to create a database to help tackle the problem. He acknowledged that many head teachers would be unwilling to collate this information for fear it will lead to a ‘league table’ of bullying but he is adamant it can help rectify problems such as sectarianism and homophobia. (Scotsman page 21, Courier page 9)

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 Politics

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SNP Policies:  Former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars has said the SNP should scrap its opposition to keeping Trident on the Clyde in efforts to rethink policies that would act as “roadblocks” to independence and focus on the big picture. Other key SNP policies that he suggests need revising are the party’s policy to pull Scotland out of Nato and the wish for Scotland to become a full European Union member. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 6, Daily Telegraph page 1)

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 Affordable Housing: Alex Neil, Scottish minister for housing and communities, has praised the first shared ownership housing development to be built in Scotland without government funding. The housing scheme in Aberdeen was developed by Grampian Housing Association in partnership with the construction company Barratt, and Mr Neil argues, will help in the task of increasing the number of affordable homes across Scotland. (Scotsman page 5)