Reform Scotland News: 19 December 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



Tax avoiders: The House of Commons public accounts committee has accused HMRC of “losing it nerve” over taking legal action against multinationals, such as Amazon, Google and Starbucks, which pursue aggressive tax avoidance schemes. (Scotsman page 1, Elizabeth Orcharton in the Scotsman, Mail page 28, Guardian page 4)


Sir Ian Wood: Aberdeen City Council has officially rejected the offer of £50 million from Sir Ian Wood to help transform the city centre. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 8, Telegraph page 8, P&J page 1)


Currency: Ratings agency Fitch has commented that “the monetary arrangement following Scottish independence could become a source of uncertainty even if Scotland remained in the GBP zone” adding that a monetary union with fiscal and banking union was unstable. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 1)


EU & benefits: David Cameron commented yesterday that the UK Government had taken legal steps to ensure that measures stopping EU migrants claiming benefits for their first three months in the UK cannot be overturned by the courts. (Scotsman page 13)


Iain MacWhirter comments in the Herald a closer look should be taken at the motives behind recent immigration claims by politicians, and that the SNP is the only party in the UK that appears to appreciate the economic benefits that migrants bring


Barnett formula: In a letter to Alex Salmond, David Cameron has reportedly commented that Scotland’s finances would be better protected as part of the UK and that no reform of the Barnett formula was planned by the current government. (Times page 1, Herald page 2, Telegraph page 1, Mail page 4, P&J page 12, Courier page 20)


Simon Hughes: Simon Hughes, the Lib Dem deputy leader, has been appointed a justice minister following the departure of Lord McNally to head the Youth Justice Board. (Times page 22, Guardian page 11)


Independence referendum: A new TNS BMRB survey has shown that the No campaign is ahead by 14%, down from 19% in September. (Herald page 1)


Welfare reform: Thousands of Scots have had their benefits cut as part of a Department for Work and Pensions crackdown, and many are said to be are “unable rather than unwilling” to comply with the new conditions. Alex Salmond has been accused of siding with the workshy by saying that such welfare reforms would be scrapped after independence (Herald page 1, Telegraph page 12, Daily Express page 1, Sun page 8, Courier page 21)


Disabled parking: A bill has been launched at Holyrood that would strengthen the enforcement of disabled parking spaces in Scotland, as it is claimed that as many as 800 motorists are abusing the blue badge scheme. (Herald page 1, Telegraph page 6, Daily record page 22)


Marriage equality: MSPs opposed to legalising same sex marriage have attempted to introduce greater protections for public sector workers, the clergy and freedom of expression as part of a series of amendments to the bill that Holyrood will begin considering today. (Telegraph page 10)


Foreign aid: A report from the International Development Committee has cast doubt over an independent Scotland’s ability to provide meaningful help to developing countries. The report warns that, as a result of this, the Scottish HQ of the Department for International Development in East Kilbride would end up either being hugely overstaffed or having to cut around 500 jobs (Daily Express page 4)


Social workers: Union leaders from Unison Scotland are demanding ministerial action amid claims that a court ruling has hindered the ability of social workers to protect children in Scotland. Their claims are based on the case of two social workers found guilty of contempt of court for doing what they considered to be best for the children in question even though it conflicted with a previous court order. (Herald page 3)



Unemployment: Unemployment in Scotland fell by 7,000 to 196,000 between August and October according to official figures.  There are also 83,000 more Scots in work than the same period last year.  Scotland’s unemployment rate now stands at 7.1 per cent compared with 7.4 per cent for the UK as a whole. (Scotsman page 11, Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman, Times page 4, Guardian page 1, Courier page 25)



Waiting times: Audit Scotland has told MSPs that although the Patients Rights Act 2011 gave Scots a 12-week waiting time guarantee, patients have no legal means to enforce it, nor can they claim compensation for non-compliance. (Times page 2)


Helen Puttick comments in the Herald that the recent report on hospitals has sparked some difficult questions regarding the centralisation of health services in Scotland



Network Rail: David Simpson, the head of Network Rail in Scotland, has been placed on “extended leave” following irregularities over the promotion of Anne-Marie Harmon from route performance manager to change programme manager. (Scotsman page 7)