Reform Scotland News: 23 September 2011

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 23 September 2011

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.

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

Politics

Spending Review: Scottish businesses are being lined up to pay an extra £850 million in tax over the next three years to top up flat-lining government coffers, the small print in the SNP’s Spending Review has reportedly revealed.  The tax rise, according to the CPPR, is to be hauled in through the non-domestic rates that firms pay to councils and equates to a 23% increase between 2011 and 2014, and they predict that some firms will collapse.  It prompted fury from business chiefs last night who warned they were being stung for “huge rises” that would inevitably reduce their ability to create jobs and help move Scotland away from the threat of recession.  The increases are contained in figures within a 250-page document on the Scottish Spending Review which was published on Wednesday, which shows that ministers have built in massive increases in the yield they expect from the rates from April next year. (The Scotsman page 1, Professor John McLaren  in The Scotsman, George Kerevan in The Scotsman, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Daily Telegraph page 1, Daily Express page 4, Daily Mail page 4, Sun page 2, Daily Record page 1)

The Church of Scotland has accused the SNP government of abandoning the poor with its “disappointing” spending plans for the next three years.  In a strongly-worded attack on the government’s budget, the Rev Ian Galloway, convener of the Kirk’s Church and Society Council, states that finance secretary John  Swinney failed to put forward measures to help Scotland’s poverty-ravaged communities. (The Scotsman page 6, Ian Galloway in The Scotsman) 

Renewable energy:  The SNP has claimed that a move by Scotland’s biggest energy company to pull out of a consortium to build a controversial new nuclear power station is a “vindication” of one of the Scottish Government’s flagship policies to promote renewable energy.  Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), which is one of the country’s biggest firms, is in talks to scrap plans for involvement in a project to build nuclear power reactors at Sellafield power station in Cumbria. Scotland’s energy minister Fergus Ewing said he warmly welcomed plans by SSE to move away from nuclear fuels.  (The Scotsman page 14&15, Peter Jones in The Scotsman)

Economy

Recession: Britain has joined forced with five other G20 countries to call for decisive and co-ordinated action from the world’s leading nations to help the global economy recover from the recession.  As global markets slumped in the face of grim economic warnings, yesterday Prime Minister David Cameron put his name on a letter to France, the current G20 president, warning that the path out of recession would be “difficult” and arguing that the world’s largest economies must agree at the Cannes G20 summit in November to work together to increase global demand without creating unsustainable imbalances. (The Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Guardian page 1, P&J page 5, Daily Telegraph page 1, Times page 1, Daily Express page 2, Daily Mail page 1, Daily Mirror page 4&5, Sun page 1)

Highland toffee: One of Scotland’s oldest sweet brands, the highland toffee bar, is set to be saved by two possible investors coming forward.  McCowans has gone into administration which has put 193 jobs at risk.  However, Falkirk MP Eric Joyce has been in talks with administrators and union chiefs over the past two days to try and save the factories and the 193 jobs. (The Scotsman page 24, Herald page 5)

Education

Student rates: The number of Scots going to Scottish Universities has fallen, but at the same time there has been a huge rise in the number of foreign students coming to Scotland for degrees.  Figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service showed a 1.3% fall in the number of Scottish undergraduates in the last five years.  During the same period, there was a 60% rise in the number of students from elsewhere in the EU, and a more modest 2.1% rise in students from the rest of the UK. (The Scotsman page 11)

University merger: Alex Salmond has refused to rule out university mergers after fears were raised that the University of Abertay in Dundee could be closed.  At First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, the Labour leader Iain Gray asked Mr Salmond if Abertay featured on what he described as a “hit list” drawn up by education secretary Michael Russell.  The day after the SNP government unveiled its budget and spending review for the next three years, the Labour leader said he was concerned that cuts to education funding would see the closure of universities and colleges. (The Scotsman page 10, Tom Peterkin in The Scotsman, Herald page 6, Ian Bell in the Herald, Courier page 1, Daily Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane in the Daily Telegraph)

College cuts: Colleges have written to the Scottish Government warning that compulsory redundancies are likely to follow cuts to their budget.  Scotland’s Colleges, which represents college principals, has written to Michael Russell, the Education Secretary, to raise concern following Wednesday’s budget.  A joint letter from John Spencer, convener of Scotland’s Colleges, and chairman Graham Johnstone describe the announcement as “bleak”  (Herald page 5, Times page 5)

Health

Translators: The NHS in Scotland spent almost £4 million on translators for foreign patients last year, which is almost £11,000 each day.  Latest figures through the Freedom of Information Act reveal the cost of paying interpreters to help foreign patients has almost doubled in the last four years. (The Scotsman page 21, Daily Express page 5, Daily Mail page 9

Animal diseases: Scottish scientists have uncovered fresh evidence of how viruses such as flu, jump between species and hope this could help predict the arrival of new diseases in the future.  Researchers from Edinburgh University found the ability of different parasites to switch between animals and humans was linked to how closely they were related, and how susceptible they were to the type of bug making the jump.  It is hoped that the new insight into the phenomenon could help predict the emergence of new diseases and allow for better planning. (The Scotsman page 25, Herald page 10, P&J page 13)