Reform Scotland News: 7 March 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

SNP spending: A leaked document, presented to the Scottish Cabinet by finance secretary John Swinney, has reportedly revealed the SNP’s private preparation for the prospect of spending cuts to jobs, welfare benefits and pensions after independence. Ministers in Edinburgh have also accepted the Bank of England would still hold the power of veto over public spending after independence, due to the SNP’s plans to keep the pound, as well as military spending unlikely to rise above the current level.  Opposition parties have criticised SNP ministers accusing them of saying “one thing in private and another thing in public”.  (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, The Daily Record page 8, The Sun page 2, The Times page 1, The Daily Telegraph page 1, The Daily Express page 1, The Courier page 17, The P&J page 12, The Daily Mail page 1)

SNP and Ukip: Speaking yesterday in Edinburgh, Tony Blair reportedly compared the SNP to Ukip when asked his views on Britain’s place in the European Union.  The former Labour Prime Minister said the SNP and Ukip were too keen to separate themselves from political unions and blame others for their difficulties, stating independence is “not the cure”.  (The Scotsman page 8, The Herald page 1, The Daily Mail page 7)

Currency options: John Kay in The Scotsman writes about Scotland’s currency options and comments on how the currency decision is the most important economic decision for an independent Scotland.

Economy

Scottish budget: John McLaren writing for The Scotsman analyses Scotland’s budget position by looking at the UK’s tax and spend policies as well as North Sea activity.

Economy kick-start: The Fraser of Allander Institute at Strathclyde University have stated Chancellor George Osborne should unveil a “massive infrastructure investment programme” by abandoning his austerity programme and boost the economy with more borrowing. (The Scotsman page 5, The Financial Times page 1)

RBS: The Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, has reportedly called for the restructuring of the Royal Bank of Scotland to end the “nonsense” of its current part-nationalised status and to cut tax payers losses on the bank.  This has resulted in increasing pressure to the Treasury and chancellor George Osborne.  (The Scotsman page 1, The Daily Record page 9, The Financial Times page 1, The Times page 4, The Daily Telegraph B1, The Daily Express page 2, The Courier page 13, The Guardian page 19, The Daily Mail page 12)

Semple Fraser: Semple Fraser have announced it intends to go into administration, resulting in more than 100 jobs being under threat.  (The Scotsman page 1)

Public spending: According to the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland 2011/2012 released yesterday, Scotland is currently running a public spending deficit of more than £7billion a year.  However, after taking North Sea oil and gas revenues into consideration, Scotland’s public finances are reportedly in better shape than the UK as a whole.  (The Scotsman page 4, The Herald page 2, The Daily Record page 1, The Daily Mail page 7)

Technical problems: The Royal Bank of Scotland banking group last night issues apologies to millions of RBS, NatWest and Bank of Ulster customers who were yesterday left unable to gain access to their accounts through cash machines or online banking facilities as systems crashed.  (The Scotsman page 6, The Herald page 12, The Daily Telegraph page 5, The P&J page 19)

Local Government

Overhaul: It has been reported that Scotland’s most senior councillor, David O’Neill, will today lay out plans for an overhaul of local government after the 2014 referendum.  David O’Neill is set to demand a change in the relationship between Holyrood and councils.  (The Herald page 6)

Justice

Unison: A study commissioned by Unison has indicated that police officer roles have risen by 8% but civilian roles have fallen by 11%.  The union has warned that Police Scotland risks failing to provide best value and have called for an increase in civilian roles.  (The Scotsman page 7)

Education

Poorer students: New figures collected by the National Union of Students have shown more students from deprived backgrounds are winning places in Scotland’s universities straight from college, as well as showing fewer students coming directly from college are dropping out of university compared to previous years.  (The Scotsman page 16)

Strike ballot: It has been reported that the largest teaching union, the Educational Institute of Scotland, are urging their members to back the vote on strike action against a row over pensions.  (The Scotsman page 18, The Herald page 8)

Health

A&E waiting times: Labour health spokeswomen, Jackie Bailie, has criticised health secretary Alex Neil after figures reveal 323 cases in December where patients waited more than 12 hours in A&E.  Jackie Bailie has accused the SNP of dropping the 98% target of all A&E patients being treated within 4 hours to 95%.  (The Scotsman page 8, The Times page 8)

Cough vaccine: GPs have reportedly been given the responsibility of giving expecting mothers the “whooping” cough vaccination, after an argument broke out between midwifes and GPs on who should be responsible for issuing the vaccination.  (The Herald page 1, The Daily Mail page 8)