Reform Scotland News: 29 August 2012

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
Free personal care: The cost of implementing free personal care for the elderly has increased by 157 per cent from £133m in 2003/4 to £342m in 2010/11.  The figures have led some to suggest that the policy is unsustainable and that if the Scottish government wants to maintain the policy it should consider cutting back on other entitlements. (Scotsman page 1, Lindsay Scott in the Scotsman, Herald page 2, Times page 3, Sun page 2, Express page 4, Telegraph page 8)

BBC job losses: The BBC has confirmed that 35 jobs are to be lost in Scotland, including 17 loses in news and current affairs. (Herald page 5, Sun page 2, Record page 5)

Public sector: Scottish Finance Minister John Swinney has suggested that he will find money to increase public sector wages in the coming years, provoking anger amongst business leaders. (Times page 3)

Housing help: Shelter Scotland has announced a rise of almost 40 per cent in the number of people calling its free housing advice telephone line over the past two years. (Herald page 8, Courier page 21)

BBC post independence: Brian Wilson in the Scotsman comments that Alex Salmond’s policy of replacing the BBC with an ‘RTE’ (the national broadcaster in the Republic of Ireland) model for broadcasting is not in the best interests of Scots.

Trade unions: Gregor Gall in the Scotsman comments that although trade unions’ power has reached a low point, they could still have a key role to play.

Cabinet reshuffle: Ian Bell in the Herald speculates on the likely forth-coming Cabinet reshuffle.

Scotland and Nato: Paul Gilbride in the Express voices his support for Alex Salmond’s bid to reverse the SNP’s long-standing opposition to NATO membership for an independent Scotland.

SNP’s opposition: Alan Cochrane in the Express suggests opposition parties must be seen to be travelling throughout Scotland and meeting ordinary voters if they wish to overhaul the SNP’s majority in the Scottish Parliament and avoid independence.

Economy
Youth unemployment: The UK Government will trial three month placement schemes for 18 to 24 year olds with charities and social organisations. Those refusing to work will be denied Jobseekers Allowance. The trial is set to start in London this autumn before being rolled out UK-wide next year. (Sun page 2, Express page 10, Telegraph page 2, Guardian page 8, Mail page 2)

Water: John Swinney yesterday resisted calls for Scottish Water to be privatised, suggesting that the capital investment that it undertakes is of key importance to the construction sector in Scotland. (Record page 2)

New taxes: Eddie Barnes in the Scotsman comments on CBI Scotland’s submission to Holyrood’s Finance committee which calls on the Scottish government to make savings through capping public sector wages and cashing in some assets such as Scottish Water to avoid business tax rises.

Health
Nursing levels: The number of nurses and midwives in the NHS in Scotland is at its lowest level since September 2005 according to official figures.  There were 56,184 full-time posts at the end of June, compared with 58,428 in September 2009. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 1)

Local government
Planning:
Trevor Davies in the Scotsman comments that local authorities should have the powers to set planning policy for their own areas, rather than the Scottish government interfering in decisions from playgrounds to shop signs.

Councillors’ wages: A study published by the Taxpayers’ Alliance yesterday suggested that Scotland has the highest paid councillors in the UK, with those in the Scottish Borders receiving £16,932 annually. A spokesman for local authority group COSLA said that the figures quoted represented a fair salary. (Express page 26, Telegraph page 12)

Transport
West Coast Main Line: Sir Richard Branson is reportedly set to challenge in court the UK government’s decision to award the West Coast Main Line franchise to FirstGroup, rather than Virgin Trains. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 5, Sun page 2, Courier page 25)

Heathrow: Further coverage of Tory MP Tim Yeo’s challenge to David Cameron over the latter’s opposition to building a third runway at Heathrow.  Mr Yeo asked whether the Prime Minister was “man or mouse”.  (Scotsman page 10, Allan Massie in the Scotsman, Herald page 6, Express page 2, Times page 6, Record page 4, Telegraph page 1, Mail page 6, Stephen Glover in the Mail, Courier page 18)