0131 524 9500 | info@reformscotland.com

REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 25 JUNE 2010

Reform Scotland

\r\n

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 25 June 2010

\r\n

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.

\r\n

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

\r\n

Economy

\r\n

Budget: Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander will appear before Holyrood\’s finance committee next week to explain the consequences of the Budget (Scotsman page 11, Press page 5).

\r\n

Meanwhile, political commentators discuss the budget and tackling the UK deficit (Alf Young in the Scotsman, Camilla Cavendish in the Times).

\r\n

Retirement age: To cope with a soaring pensions bill, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith launched a consultation on proposals to extend the retirement age possibly as high as 70 years. This has caused particular concern in Scotland, which has a lower average life expectancy than England (Scotsman page 4, Herald page 7, Financial Times page 2, P&J page 5, Times page 6, Telegraph page 4, Courier page 10, Sun page 4, Record page 6, Mail page 6, Express page 1, Ross Clark in the Express).

\r\n

Simon Hughes, the Lib-Dems newly-elected deputy leader, issued a warning to the Tories that the government would break up if key pensioner benefits were cut (Guardian page 1, Martin Kettle in the Guardian, Mail page 12).

\r\n

\r\n

Banks: Regulators plan to introduce tough standards on capital and liquidity later this year to shore up the banking industry and are urging it to start preparing by setting aside more profits as a buffer against bad debts. However, UK banks are currently over-indebted, have a serious financing gap and are highly vulnerable to future shocks in the international financial system (Herald page 35, Telegraph B1, Financial Times page 1, Times page 45, Mail page 9).

\r\n

\r\n

Fuel price: Drivers in the UK now pay 11p more than anyone else in Europe for a litre of diesel due to taxes (P&J page 1).

\r\n

Politics

\r\n

Afghanistan: Four British soldiers were killed when their armoured vehicle rolled off the road and ended up under water. Enemy action is not thought to have been involved in the accident (Scotsman page 11, Herald page 3, Telegraph page 16, P&J page 13, Times page 13, Mirror page 9, Record page 4, Mail page 10, Express page 4).

\r\n

MP expenses: Recent figures have shown that MPs claimed more than £2.5 million of taxpayers’ money to promote themselves in the run-up to the election. The scandal has prompted MPs to reduce their claims by more than a third in a bid to regain public trust (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 6, Guardian page 4, Telegraph page 1, P&J page 12, Courier page 17, Mail page 8, Express page 2).

\r\n

Scottish Conservatives: The Tories’ poor General Election result has prompted the departure of former TV journalist Michael Crow, who was brought in as director of strategy and communications to help craft the Conservative message north of the Border (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 5, Telegraph page 14, P&J page 14, Times page 11).

\r\n

SNP loan: Alex Salmond is facing demands from opposition parties to make a statement over a £180,000 loan to a firm that ran the loss-making flagship event for Homecoming Scotland.  An Audit Scotland report revealed details of the loan to the firm which later went bust with debts of about £516,000. Mr Salmond defended the loan, stating that the event generated an estimated £10 million for the economy (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 1, P&J page 11, Times page 17, Express page 5).

\r\n

Tax powers for Scotland: Alex Salmond has stated that the most important future aim for Scotland should be financial powers rather than independence (Times page 1).

\r\n

Local Government

\r\n

Council cuts: Glasgow City Council, Scotland’s largest local authority, is preparing to make £180 million of savings over the next three years due to the squeeze on public spending. Rural councils in Perth, Kinross, Dumfries and Galloway have also announced increased cutbacks in the aftermath of the Government’s emergency budget (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 11, P&J page 1 and 6, Express page 10).

\r\n

Education

\r\n

Higher education: There is further coverage of Reform Scotland’s report on further and higher education, which proposes a system in which graduates pay for part of the cost of their higher education through a “deferred fee”, payable once they earn more than the average Scottish salary, or £22,958 according to the most recent figures.  The report argues that this is a better option than up-front tuition fees or a lifetime graduate tax (TESS page 18).

\r\n

Scottish schools: Dirk van Damme, the head of research and innovation at The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), has warned that Scotland’s schools are failing more than one in ten children and need to be more open to change (Scotsman page 12).

\r\n

Education maintenance allowance: A government scheme aimed at reducing large numbers of unemployed school leavers is to be scaled back to cut costs. Currently, the Education Maintenance Allowance makes weekly payments of £30 to the poorest 16 to 19-year-olds at school and college to encourage them to stay on. However, additional bonuses of up to £300 for attendance and performance each year will not be awarded next year (Scotsman page 15, Herald page 4, P&J page 14).