Reform Scotland News: 3 April 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

Welfare reform: George Osborne defended the UK government’s welfare changes yesterday claiming critics were talking “ill-informed rubbish” and that the system had been “fundamentally broken” prior to the reforms.  Charity Turn2US said there was a lot of confusion about the changes and that four out of 10 benefit claimants were unaware of the reforms. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 6, Times page 8, John Bird in the Times, Sun page 2, Graeme Cooke in the FT, Brendan O’Neill in the Telegraph, Mary Riddell in the Telegraph, Mail page 19, Guardian page 4, P&J page 12, Courier page 18, Stefan Morkis in the Courier)

Bill Walker: Independent MSP Bill Walker has denied 24 charges of domestic assault in court in Edinburgh. (Scotsman page 11)

Referendum cost: The cost of staging the independence referendum will be £13.3million according to the business and regulatory impact assessment of the Referendum Bill. (Herald page 1)

Currency: Law firm Tods Murray has commented that an independent Scotland would have more control over its finances if it introduced a new currency. (Times page 11, Express page 2, Mail page 6)

‘Bedroom tax’: Brian Wilson in the Scotsman argues against the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’.

Devolution: David Steel in the Scotsman argues in favour of a more federal union where there is real distribution of power and where the Scottish Parliament raises as much as practical of its own expenditure.

Arts and independence: Allan Massie in the Scotsman considers the impact that independence could have on culture in Scotland and argues that it seems unlikely that independence would improve the current situation.

North Sea oil: Iain Gray in the Scotsman argues that unionists should not let oil become a “nationalist” issue and that there should be more focus on helping the industry today, rather than on what the oil price will be in 2017.

Conservatives and devolution: Ian Bell in the Herald considers Ruth Davidson’s call for new powers for Holyrood and the impact this could have on the Conservative Party in Scotland.

Economy

Minimum wage: The UK government is reportedly considering freezing or cutting the minimum wage.  The possibility has been criticised by trade unions and opposition parties. (Herald page 1, Record page 10)

Whisky exports: The number of bottles of whisky sold around the world fell by 70 million last year according to the Scotch Whisky Association.  However, whisky exports are now worth 87 per cent more than they were a decade ago. (Scotsman page 8, Express page 5, Mail page 27, P&J page 2)

Cost of running a home: The annual cost of owning and running a home has increased by an average of £179 over the past year according to a study carried out by the Halifax. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 3)

Wind power: Alex Salmond is reportedly ready to back “turbine-free areas” to protect some of Scotland’s most dramatic scenery. (Times page 1)

Local government

Haymarket development: The former goods yard next to Haymarket station is to undergo a £200m redevelopment following a £10.5m rescue deal. (Scotsman page 1)

Transport

Train fares: Proposals from the Scottish government which will see the current rail fare pricing structure scrapped next month will mean fares will be cut by up to 40 per cent. (Scotsman page 15, Herald page 2, Express page 5, Sun page 1, Keith Brown in the Sun, Record page 8, Telegraph page 10, Mail page 31, P&J page 15, Courier page 15)

A1: The SNP is reportedly under pressure to upgrade the A1 north of the Border as the UK government is likely to give the go-ahead to remove the last remaining single carriageway sections in England. (Herald page 11, Express page 11)

Health

Sleeping pills: A new report, “Insomnia, A wake-up call” has accused doctors of the “inappropriate and extended” prescribing of powerful sleeping pills to elderly people with insomnia. (Scotsman page 14)