Reform Scotland News: 20 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



Horsemeat: Scottish ministers are to set up two expert groups in the wake of the horsemeat scandal. One will advise on the creation of a new stand-alone body, and the other will build on the reputation of quality beef and look at extending the Scotch brand into the processing sector.  There is a further story in The Scotsman reporting that parliamentary authorities have admitted that four products have been withdrawn from the subsidised restaurants used by MPs, peers and staff. A Commons spokesman said the withdrawal was precautionary after one of the House of Commons’ suppliers announced it was carrying out tests. (Herald page 6, Mail page 2, Scotsman page 10)


Financial rights: Ailsa McKay writing in The Scotsman argues that the forthcoming referendum on independence provides Scotland with the opportunity to think creatively about how we design and deliver state welfare in a new Scotland.


ING and independence: Dutch banking group ING has warned that Scottish independence could risk damaging economic growth in Scotland and the rest of the UK. (Herald page 1)


Culture: Alan Riach writing in The Herald argues that the cultural argument should play a pivotal role in the argument for independence.


Energy costs: Ofgem were criticised yesterday for not offering a plan to help struggling customers after admitting that energy bills would continue to rise as oil and coal-fired power stations close. (Record page 2 )



European funding: Scotland could lose out on about £250million in European funding for growth-investment as a result of the reduction in the EU budget fought for by David Cameron, according to The Scottish government. A spokesman for the UK government said that none of the budgets have been set yet, but Nicola Sturgeon has warned that Scotland could face a disproportionate reduction in European structural funding. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, P&J page 14)


Poverty: The Campaign to End Child Poverty will publish figures today that show one in five children in Britain are living in poverty. (Scotsman page 5)


Low income: The latest Growing Up in Scotland report has found that 27 per cent of Scottish families had to get by on an annual income of less that £12,500 in 2010-11. The study, commissioned by Scottish ministers, has also found a rise in the number of non-traditional families in Scotland with a fifth of 10 month olds being part of a single parent home. The report also showed a steep increase in the cost of childcare, with young families increasingly reliant on grandparents for financial support. (Scotsman page 4, Telegraph page 4, Record page 2, Sun page 2)


Scottish poverty: Brian Wilson writing in The Scotsman comments on the End Child Poverty campaign’s report that there are wards in Scotland where over 20 per cent of children live in poverty and criticises the accusation from some nationalists that the English are responsible for Scotland’s problems and are stealing Scottish money and resources.


Welfare cuts: Changes to the welfare system could take £63.5million a year from the economies of Tayside and Fife according to the area’s councils. The economy of Fife alone will lose between £33m and £40m from the benefits cuts and caps introduced by Chancellor George Osborne, the council has claimed. (Courier page 1) 



Polmont Prison: Brigadier Hugh Monro, Scotland’s chief inspector of prisons, has said Polmont young offenders institute is failing to rehabilitate inmates despite receiving £65million in new funding since 2007. (Scotsman page 1, Record page 8, Courier page 1, P&J page 19)


Policing: MSPs have agreed to put in place a special sub-committee to oversee Scotland’s new unified police force. (Herald page 6)



Norovirus: NHS Lothian hospital bosses have closed wards to new patients and are restricting visitors after an outbreak of the norovirus affected a third of patients at Liberton hospital. (Scotsman page 18, Herald page 3)



Principals’ pay: Giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s education committee yesterday, Professor Stuart Munro said he was concerned that the salaries of principals had not increased over the past few years. Professor Munro also said that he did not think Edinburgh University would be able to get a top-class principal on the salary paid to Prime Minister David Cameron. (Scotsman page 20)


Tuition fees: A row has erupted over free university tuition at Holyrood as SNP and Liberal Democrat MSPs backed free tuition in a symbolic vote while Tories voted against and Labour abstained. There is a further story reporting that the Committee of Scottish Chairs wants the Scottish government to scrap draft legislation that would allow ministers far-reaching controls over Scottish universities. The legislation includes a cap of £9,000 annual fees for Rest of UK students. Their proposal has been criticised by student groups and academics. (Herald page 6, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Times page 9, Express page 4, Sun page 2, Mail page 16)