Reform Scotland News: 20 May 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

European elections: In the run-up to this week’s European elections, Ukip’s top candidate in Scotland has accused Alex Salmond of ‘sectarian’ campaign tactics. David Coburn made the claim in response to Salmond’s election trail visit to a mosque last week. Mr Coburn accusations have been strongly denied by SNP European candidate Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh, who described Ukip as a ‘small-minded, intolerant party’. (Scotsman page 1)

 

European elections: Nick Clegg has claimed that both Ukip and the SNP share a ‘willingness to put Scotland’s position in the EU at risk’. The Deputy Prime Minister made the comments during a keynote speech in Edinburgh, where he highlighted potential membership obstacles for an independent Scotland, and Ukip’s intentions to engineer the UK’s exit from the EU. (Scotsman page 4, Telegraph page 1)

 

David Cameron: Contradicting suggestions by some conservative MPs, the Prime Minister has explicitly denied that he would resign from his post if Scotland becomes independent. (Herald page 6, Daily Record page 2, Times page 2, Press & Journal page 12, Courier page 14)

 

Scotland in Europe: Peter Jones in the Scotsman argues that the British economy would suffer greatly if outside the EU. Jones highlights that EU membership is of huge importance to overseas traders as EU regulation is necessary for ease of trade inside the union.

 

 

Economy

Tax avoidance: The Law Society of Scotland has warned that the Scottish Government’s proposed clampdown on tax avoidance could scare off investors. These concerns centre on the fact that the new Scottish system would utilise a broader definition of tax avoidance than the rest of the UK, which could put firms off investing in the country. (Scotsman page 6)

 

Scottish Hydro: Scotland’s biggest energy firm is expected to announce that its profits have risen by 9% to £1.54 billion. The surge in profits follows an 8% increase in consumer charges, implemented in November last year. The firm has now announced a price freeze until March 2016. (Daily Record page 2)

 

Zero-Hours contracts: The SNP has admitted they do not know how many NHS staff are currently employed on zero-hours contracts, sparking criticism from health spokesmen who claim workers are being exploited by the contracts. (Daily Record page 6)

 

Bedroom tax: Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee has urged the UK and Scottish governments to expedite the transfer new powers to Holyrood, in order to mitigate the loss in housing benefit payments for those tenants affected. (Herald page 6)

 

Wealth inequality: Labour MPs have accused the SNP of growing wealth inequality across Scotland. Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran claims that Alex Salmond’s focus on attacking the rich of London is at the expense of addressing social justice concerns in Scotland. (Daily record page 7)

 

 

Health

Radioactive beach: A report commissioned by the Scottish government has found that radioactive particles and high-activity radiation found at Dalgety Bay in Fife pose a potential risk to the public. The report, carried out by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (Comare), concludes that in the interest of public health, the site must be cleaned as soon as possible, and radiation levels monitored. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 7, Daily Express page 10, Telegraph page 10, Courier page 10)

 

NHS: Experts have advised that patients with the chronic illness lymphoedema need better access to NHS services in Scotland. A report by the Scottish Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee (SMASAC) warns that while the condition is becoming more prevalent, awareness of the condition amongst health professionals is poor, and patients are struggling to access necessary services on the NHS. (Scotsman page 8)

 

Elderly patients: A scheme that has led to a cut in hospital admissions among elderly patients will be rolled out across Scotland. The initiative led by Healthcare Improvement Scotland, specified that those patients identified as frail on admission should be cared for on a specialist ward to reduce risk of further illness and death. The project has proved successful in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, where the average length of stay for elderly patients dropped from 22 days to 8, and mortality rates fell by 5%. (Scotsman page 10)