REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 28 MAY 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 28 May 2010

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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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In addition to the newspaper stories outlined below, further news coverage can be found online at BBC News Scotland, STV News and Sky News.

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Politics

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Capital gains tax: Senior Conservatives continue to criticise coalition plans to raise capital gains tax from its present rate of 18 per cent to 40 or even 50 per cent, arguing that it would penalise those saving for their futures. The Prime Minister indicated that the higher rate was necessary to fund helping the poor by raising the income tax threshold to £10,000 (Scotsman page 2, Telegraph page 1 and 10, Financial Times page 3, Mail page 8).

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ID cards: Labour’s eight-year-old identity card scheme will be scrapped within 100 days under the Identity Documents Bill, the first piece of legislation introduced by the coalition Government, in a move to save £86 million over four years. The bill would invalidate all existing cards (Scotsman page 2, Times page 6, Telegraph page 17, Guardian page 7, Financial Times page 3, Press and Journal page 15).

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Delayed Scottish spending cuts: A devolution study published today claims that David Cameron risks resentment from the poorer regions of England due to a decision to allow Scotland to postpone spending cuts until next year. While the block grant for Scotland would be cut by £332 million as part of the £6.2 billion UK-wide package of spending reductions, the Scottish government has already agreed to defer these cuts until 2011-12 (Times page 11, Telegraph page 15, Mail page 2, Express page 4).

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Quango spending: The Skills Development Scotland agency, funded by taxpayers, was criticised for earmarking £260,000 for 2010-11 plus £295,000 for the following financial year for branding purposes at a time when Scotland is struggling with youth unemployment (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 1, Telegraph page 14, Mail page 10, Express page 4).

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Benefits: Iain Duncan Smith has pledged to end dependency on benefits through radical changes to the welfare system such as the loss of benefits for those who refuse to work as well as efforts to "make work pay" for the lowest earners. The first target will be the 2.5 million people in the UK – including 285,000 in Scotland – who receive incapacity benefit and will be reassessed for work under much stricter medical tests (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 6, Camilla Cavendish in the Times, Telegraph page 16, Guardian page 21, Financial Times page 2, Press and Journal page 5, Mail page 20, Express page 2).

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Meanwhile, the age at which people can claim their state pension may rise in line with increases in life expectancy (Scotsman page 9).

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Alcohol Pricing: SNP members of the health and sport committee have called on health secretary Nicola Sturgeon to put a minimum price-per-unit in the Alcohol Bill when it comes back to the Holyrood chamber. The Scottish government’s plan for minimum alcohol prices has split the cross-party Health Committee, with SNP members in favour but Labour, Lib Dem and Tory MSPs opposed (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 7, Times page 11, Telegraph page 6, Press and Journal page 12, Courier page 9, Record page 2, Mail page 51, Express page 4).

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Tax blunder: HM Revenue and Customs accidentally sent other people’s personal and confidential financial information to up to 50,000 tax credit recipients, including thousands of Scots, and may now have to pay compensation to claimants (Herald page 2, Telegraph page 2, Mail page 34).

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Immigration: More than 200,000 foreign nationals became British citizens last year — a rise of 58 per cent. However, net migration to Britain is set to drop below 100,000 a year (Times page 6, Telegraph page 17, Guardian page 13, Financial Times page 3, Express page 15).

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Economy

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Enterprise: In his first keynote speech as Prime Minister, David Cameron will argue that the UK economy has become increasingly hostile to enterprise, too dependent on the public sector and heavily indebted (Herald page 6, Times page 3, Guardian page 20).

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Tourism: VisitScotland is launching a £5 million marketing campaign to boost tourist numbers and spending in Scotland by more than £100m this year and is designed to attract visitors from continental Europe and the rest of the UK as well as resident Scots (Scotsman page 1). Tourism could fall, however, due to a six-year decline in standards in Scottish beaches. Unless improvements are made more than one-third of Scotland’s beaches will be branded unfit for bathers within five years (Herald page 3, Times page 12, Press and Journal page 7).

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Earnings gap: According to a new study, full-time working women earn 12 per cent less than their male colleagues in Scotland, with the disparity highest in senior management roles and in the financial sector (Scotsman page 6, Press and Journal page 12, Courier page 9, Mail page 11). Measures to encourage greater representation of women in Britain\’s boardrooms have been outlined as part of an overhaul of the City corporate governance code. Companies with all-male boards will come under pressure to hire women directors.  (Scotsman page 4, Herald page 32, Times page 58, Guardian page 34, Financial Times page 17).

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House-building: Private house-building has fallen to its lowest level in almost 30 years, but Government-funded homes continue to be built (Herald page 13, Press and Journal page 9, Mail page 18).

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Education

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Teaching standards: The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) said a new system of maintaining teaching standards that is being introduced in England will not address incompetence. The GTCS said it will instead look at creating a system of identifying training needs (Scotsman page 20, Herald page 5, TESS page 1).