Reform Scotland News: 23 February 2011

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 23 February 2011

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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 highlighted 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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Poverty: Nearly a tenth of children in Scotland are living in severe poverty, according to research from a leading charity. A Save the Children study found 90,000 youngsters were living in households that survive on less than half the median income, with nearly three-quarters of the children part of families in which no adult works. Save the Children classifies severe child poverty as either a single-parent family with one child under 14 with an income of less than £7,000, or a couple with two children under 14 on less than £12,500. The report, issued today, found the problem was most pronounced in Glasgow, with some 18 per cent of youngsters living in severe child poverty, double the Scottish average. (Scotsman page 6) 

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Holyrood candidate: A Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate has stood down after being charged with soliciting prostitutes. Councillor Gordon Leslie, a veteran member of Aberdeen City Council\\\’s ruling Lib Dem Group, announced his resignation as the party\\\’s candidate for the new Aberdeen Donside constituency yesterday. His departure came less than 24 hours after he was named as the Lib Dems\\\’ choice to contest the seat in the Holyrood elections, following a meeting of the party\\\’s Aberdeen North branch. (Scotsman page 7, Daily Mail page 31, Daily Record page 1) 

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Voluntary Sector: Martin Sime, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, writes in the Scotsman on the ‘growing consensus within the third sector to radically change the relationship between the people and the state, and to fundamentally reshape public services.’ The Gathering, the UK’s largest third sector event, is taking place today. (Scotsman page 26)

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OAP tax cut: The Scottish Conservatives have pledged to make a £200 cut in pensioners’ council tax bills in exchange for supporting the next Scottish Government. Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie made plain to Labour and the SNP that her party would only support them if they backed her plan for a significant reduction in OAP council tax. (Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane comments page 4, Daily Express page 2) 

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Economy

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Jobs package: Up to 5,000 people will be helped into work in Scotland thanks to a new £10 million funding package, the finance secretary has announced. Finance Secretary John Swinney said the money would be used to encourage small and medium-sized companies to take staff on, provide assistance with hiring new employees, and encourage Scotland\\\’s exporting companies. Speaking at a Business Gateway event in Edinburgh, Mr Swinney said: "This £10m fund will help provide an incentive for companies to take staff on, it will provide crucial cash to help meet the cost of hiring more employees and it will also be targeted at our exporting companies – a crucial area which has helped lead the recovery we have seen across Scotland. In all, it is investment that reflects our clear priority of investing to support economic recovery and will support up to 5,000 new jobs for individuals." (Scotsman page 13) 

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Transport

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Mountain rescue tax: Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has agreed to see if there is any way to help mountain rescue teams seeking exemption from paying road tax on their rescue vehicles. It is a campaign that Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team has been pursuing for nearly seven years since it discovered other emergency services all enjoyed exemptions.  Until 2002 Northern Constabulary paid the tax. Mr Moore met the Glencoe team leader John Grieve yesterday, who raised the issue with him. Mr Grieve said “I feel heartened by the meeting. He obviously couldn’t make any commitments, but did say he would consider the issue. He said Danny Alexander was looking at how he could help mountain rescue teams.” (Herald) 

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Health

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Strokes: Scotland appears to be winning a battle with one of the country\\\’s biggest killers as new figures show that early deaths from strokes have been more than halved. The improvement has been welcomed by health minister Shona Robison, who called it a "fantastic achievement". Better lifestyles and greater awareness about spotting the early signs of stroke have been identified as key factors in the decline. (Scotsman page 10) 

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Dental registrations: The number of people registered with an NHS dentist in Scotland has risen to a new high. Official figures show that 83 per cent of children and 69 per cent of adults were signed up by last December. But only 58 per cent of the population went to their dentist for treatment over the two years to September 2010. They also showed regional differences, with only 50 per cent of people in Grampian registered with an NHS dentist, compared with 77 per cent in Ayrshire and Arran. Public health minister Shona Robison said "significant investment" had been made in dentistry. "An extra million Scots, including the vast majority of children living north of the Border, now have access to NHS dental treatment," she said. (Scotsman page 10, Press and Journal page 9) 

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Alcohol consumption: Scots drink twice the volume of spirits consumed by their English and Welsh counterparts, according to figures published yesterday. The statistics prompted calls for urgent action to deal with the problem. But Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon reportedly said an opportunity to do so had been missed when opposition MSPs refused to back the SNP’s minimum pricing plans. (Telegraph page 1, Daily Mail page 9)