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Reform Scotland News: 15 February 2013

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

Tax: Ed Miliband has declared his backing for the so-called ‘Mansion Tax’ and gone further to say that this would fund the reinstatement of the 10p tax band. This was announced in a speech yesterday and was reported as a move to assert himself and the party as on the side of the low paid. (Herald page 6, Scotsman page 1, Telegraph page 11, Times page 9, FT page 1 and comment by George Parker and Jim Pickard page 3, Express page 19, Sun page 6, Record page 2, Guardian page 6, Polly Toynbee, P&J page 19, Mail page 12, Courier page 19)

Scottish elections: UKIP leader Nigel Farage is confident that his party can win a seat in Holyrood in the next election. He cites recent poll figures on Scottish attitudes to an in-out EU referendum (58% in favour) as a sign that the Scottish people might be open to an anti-EU party. (Herald page 6, Scotsman page 10, Times page 10, Mail page 19)

Independence Referendum: More figures have been published regarding likely voting patterns in the independence referendum. A recent Ipsos MORI poll has claimed that the unemployed are more likely to vote for independence than against. (Express page 11)

Avalanche: Three people have died in an avalanche in the Cairngorms. A group of six climbers were buried under snow as a search team of 50, aided by personnel from RAF Lossiemouth, scoured the area. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 1, Telegraph page 1, Times page 3, Express page 1, Record page 1, P&J page 1, Mail page 1, Courier page 3)

Economy

Benefits reform: A change in the way claimants are to apply for benefits has prompted Citizens Advice Scotland to warn that the most vulnerable are at risk of harm. As the Universal Credit is implemented the system of claiming will be transferred to an online system in order to ease pressure on Job Centre staff. However, such a move leaves those jobseekers without the IT skills at risk of going without their benefits as they get used to the new system. Citizens Advice Scotland argue that people should be allowed to claim for benefits in a way that suits them. (Herald page 2, Scotsman page 20)

Health

Flu: 18 people have died from the winter flu virus in Scotland this year. Though NHS staff are stressing that they are able to cope with people falling seriously ill with the virus; those who died had complicating health factors. (Herald page 3)

Public health: Doctors in the UK have warned that drinking causes 35 cases of cancer per day. A new body of research due to be published reveals the strong link between alcohol and certain types of cancer such as liver, bowel and breast cancer. (Scotsman page 16)

Justice

Domestic abuse: Reported cases of domestic abuse dramatically increased over the winter period. In December and January, 10,159 cases of domestic abuse were reported prompting the head of the Violence Reduction Unit to brand it ‘Scotland’s national shame’. (Express page 10, Mail page 2)

Education

Horsemeat scandal: In the wake of fresh revelations about the incursion of horsemeat into beef products, the Scottish Government has announced that meals provided in Scottish schools do not contain such contamination. A spokesperson for the Scottish Government reassured people that all the beef used in school meals is 100% traceable. (Herald page 6, Scotsman page 4)

Universities: A controversial article by a professor at Edinburgh Napier University claims that Scottish academics are being muscled out of Scottish Universities by staff from elsewhere. He claims that such a shift will see Scottish interests losing out in terms of research priority. (Herald page 5)

University access: Recent figures have revealed a 2% drop in Scottish students studying postgraduate degrees in Scotland. This fall has sparked fears for the future of the Scottish economy as the skills needed to develop and innovate in business are not being acquired. One explanation for the decline is offered by NUS Scotland President Robin Parker who says it is because of lack of support for less advantaged students with many having to take out commercial loans. (Herald page 8)

Transport

Edinburgh trams: The Edinburgh tram system is said to be ahead of schedule at key points. City leaders have indicated that the process of resurfacing large sections of the road where rails have been laid has begun despite not being expected until summer. This means that many barriers will be lifted allowing greater access to local businesses. (Scotsman page 15)

Local Government

Budget cuts: Thousands of public service jobs are to be cut by local councils after their budgets have reportedly been squeezed further. Authorities say that they are in favour of voluntary redundancies. Already 35,000 jobs have been lost in Scottish local councils putting large amounts of pressure on remaining staff to deliver quality public services. Falkirk, Renfrewshire and Fife have all committed to saving over £10m this year. (Herald page 1)