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Reform Scotland News: 26 March 2014

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

Referendum debate: A report by the Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) has claimed that the SNP’s blueprint for independence does “not add up”. It noted that the Yes campaign had failed to clarify which currency an independent Scotland would use, and also failed to admit the need for deficit reduction, despite promising substantial spending commitments. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Telegraph page 1, FT page 2, Express page 4, Mail page 6, P&J page 12, Courier page 16)

A new poll by YouGov for The Times has indicated that support for independence has risen by four points over the last three months. Meanwhile, 50 percent of No voters want more powers for Holyrood. (Times page 1)

A bid by a Conservative MP to prevent Scottish MPs from voting in the 2015 General Election should Scotland become independent has been denied. (Herald page 6, P&J page 11)

Allister Heath in the Telegraph comments on the decline in North Sea oil revenue.

Welfare reform: An investigation into the Government’s work assessment system has found the assessment to be “flawed” and “unreliable”. The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, in light of the recent report, has called for wholesale changes to the existing system. (Herald page 1)

Meanwhile, 20 Labour backbenchers are expected to vote against the party line, by voting against George Osborne’s proposal to introduce an annual cap on welfare spending. (Herald page 6)

Scottish Labour: George Kerevan in the Scotsman and Ian Bell in the Herald both warn that Scottish Labour must return to its traditional roots and values. They claim that in recent years the SNP has been the champion of social democratic values in Scotland.

Ed Miliband: A YouGov poll for The Times has indicated that just 19 percent of voters could envision Ed Miliband in Downing Street, while just 26 percent believe Labour is ready for government. (Times page 2, Record page 11)

John Mills, one of Labour’s biggest private donors, has reportedly claimed that Mr Miliband will not deliver on pledges to cap energy bills and break up large high street banks. (Telegraph page 4)

EU debate: Nigel Farage, leader of the UKIP party, will reportedly accuse Nick Clegg of being unpatriotic and “European at heart” during this evening’s radio debate on Britain’s membership of the EU. (Telegraph page 4, Express page 19)

Public trust: Only one in five UK voters has confidence in the UK parliament, the least for any major country in the EU, a report by the committee on standards in public life (CSPL) has shown. (Scotsman page 16)

Royal Mail: The Royal Mail is facing the threat of industrial action just months after its privatisation. The threat comes as a result of plans to cut its workforce by 1,600, which forms part of an efficiency programme aimed at saving £50million a year. (Scotsman page 12, Express page 2, Courier page 20)

Economy

Lloyds: The UK government has announced plans to sell a further £4.2billion of shares in the bank Lloyds, reducing HM Treasury shareholding in the bank to 25 per cent. (Scotsman page 1, Telegraph B1, FT page 1, Express page 59)

Inflation: Inflation fell to a four-year low of 1.7 percent last month, with official forecasts revealing that pay is expected to overtake inflation later this year. (Scotsman page 9, Telegraph B1, FT page 2, P&J page 18, Guardian page 4)

House prices: Official figures have indicated that Scottish house prices are headed back to where they were prior to the financial crash. (Herald page 3)

Education

Independence: The Research Councils UK (RCUK) has indicated its willingness to maintain links with Scottish Universities in the face of a majority Yes vote. It did concede, however, that such an arrangement would involve complex negotiations. (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 3)

Meanwhile, the National Union of Students (NUS) has labelled the SNP’s plans to charge UK students up to £36,000 in an independent Scotland “morally wrong and unjustifiable”. (Times page 7, P&J page 13)

Justice

Courts reform bill: MSPs were yesterday warned that planned changes to civil courts will be a “train wreck”, and would not deliver expected savings. The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers also noted that any plans to change the Scottish judicial system would only benefit the insurance industry. (Scotsman page 8)

Health

Cancer patient targets: Health boards that consistently fail to hit cancer waiting time targets are to be monitored by specialist teams with the aim of bringing them up to the required standard. (Scotsman page 14, Herald page 4, P&J page 17)