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Reform Scotland News: 15 October 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

Personal allowance: The Conservatives are reportedly considering a policy of raising the personal allowance from £10,000 to £12,500 for their 2015 general election manifesto. (Scotsman page 6)

Henry McLeish: Henry McLeish has commented that independence would be “much more attractive” if the Yes campaign promoted a Nordic style vision of equality.  However, the former First Minister has said that he still intends to vote no in the referendum. (Scotsman page 8)

Oil fund: Peter Jones in the Scotsman questions whether an oil fund in an independent Scotland would be realistic in the short term.

Press regulation: Christine Jardine in the Scotsman argues in favour of the Royal Charter to regulate the press. While Hugo Rifkind in the Times and Robert Harris in the Mail are against it.

West Lothian Question: Tom Greatrex, Labour MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West ,argues that implementing an ‘English vote for English laws’ would only be relevant in less than 1% of the legislation passed by Westminster. (Herald page 6)

Baroness Goldie: Former Scottish Conservative leader; Annabel Goldie will be made Baroness Goldie of Bishopton in the County of Renfrewshire on Monday, November 1st. (Herald, page 6)

Economy

Energy prices: Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive of energy company SSE, has commented that consumers are facing a rise in energy bills of £26 a year due to the UK government’s green energy tax policies. (Scotsman page 1).  Nick Clegg warns that cutting ‘Green Tax’ will also mean energy bills would increase. (Telegraph, page 1) However, the Financial Times reports that the ‘green strategy will add 41% to price of electricity’ Financial Times, page 2)

Grangemouth: Talks aimed at halting planned strike action at the Grangemouth oil refinery have reportedly stalled.  Members of the Unite union currently plan to walk out for 48hours on Sunday. (Scotsman page 8, Sun page 2, Record page 2, Herald, page 1, Express, page 2, Telegraph, page 4, Times, page 1, Courier page 2, Mail page 1)

Immigration: The EU has disputed claims that migrants are taking advantage of the UK’s welfare system. (Sun page 2, Herald, page 6, Telegraph page 12, Financial Times, page 2, Guardian page 6)

Housing: The so called ‘bedroom tax’ may only recover the Government 60% of the estimated savings due to people taking up homes in the more expensive private sector where housing benefit payments are higher. (Record page 2)

Agriculture: Cross-Party MSPs have united to urge Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael to give Scotland an extra £200 million in EU farm funding (Record, page 2, Herald, page 24, P&J page 35)

Recession: Unions warn that the latest survey showing a record growth in output and new business clashes is at odds with high costs of living, low wages and unemployment.  (Record, page 8)

HMRC crack down on Tax Cheats: A new Task Force set up by HMRC will target those who try to fraudulently reclaim VAT (Herald, page 7)

Royal Mail Shares: MPs are set to investigate the price which the Government sold. The shares closed at yesterday 245p and it is estimated that members of the public who sell their shares today will make a profit of around £300. (Telegraph, page1, Guardian, page 25, Courier page 33, The Times, page 37)

Pensions: 1.6 million employees have now been signed up to a workplace pension with millions set to join by 2018. The National Association of Pensions Fund found that 44% of employees are very or quite confident about the UK pension scheme.  (Express, page 28)

Wind farm Subsidy: Government backed plans to build hundreds of wind turbines in the Northern and Western Isles will cost up to £900 million and may only make £200 million back. (P&J, page 30)

 Justice

Domestic abuse: Police Scotland’s chief constable, Sir Stephen House, has suggested that some people accused of domestic abuse should be diverted away from the courts towards counselling and relationship guidance. (Scotsman page 11, Mail page 6, Times, page 8)

Crimes against the elderly: Age Scotland has welcomed the new prosecution policy which will cover elderly people in their own homes and in care homes and in hospitals (Times, page 2)

Local government

Local taxes: Ben Thomson in the Scotsman argues that local authorities should be responsible for raising more of their own income.

Health

The effect the recession has had on our health: A report conducted in Glasgow has found that one in five people are finding it difficult to afford heating their home and one in seven are finding it more challenging to pay for food. One fifth of those surveyed also disclosed that they have been to see their doctor about a mental health issue for the first time. (Herald, page 5)

Overcrowding of maternity unit: Health bosses have called for ‘urgent’ action on the lack of beds at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary (Sun, page 2)

 Education

Subject choice: A study by the University of Edinburgh has suggested that the subject choice made by school pupils, who attended school between 1969 and 1976, had a bigger impact on their social mobility later in life that the school they attended. (Scotsman page 1)