“The Scottish Government, as is their right, have simply decided that they would rather spend the increased funding elsewhere. They have, it seems, other priorities.” The agreed Scottish Budget provisions for local government are unpicked.
“A full-blown universal income would be even more expensive, involving rises of 10%, taking the basic rate of income tax to 30% and the higher and top rates to 50%. Politically those increases are unthinkable. They would take us back to the 1970s. Since then the direction of income taxes has been relentlessly downwards…”
“Commentators (myself included) can be pretty critical of the opposition parties at Holyrood for not being more effective. But if the budget document – one of the single most important things the government puts before the Parliament – contains these sort of inconsistencies, they really are up against it.”
The new economic initiatives are all welcome, but are unlikely to make much impression on Scotland’s low productivity and lack of investment. Yet the weak economy remains the Scottish Government’s biggest problem. Growth lags that of the rest of the UK and…under the Smith Commission changes, lower growth means lower public spending. Home grown austerity may not be far off.
John Swinney is a Big Beast brought in by the First Minister to close the attainment gap in Scottish schools – or “fix” a failing system. Lots of ideas swirling around but a rather vague SNP manifesto – and no clear pointers to the way ahead.
The closure of 17 Edinburgh schools built under PFI contracts has become a big issue in the Holyrood elections. Here an expert goes behind the headlines to analyse the system of public/private co-financing as a whole – and the SG’s profit-capping model.
Nicola Sturgeon has called for an inquiry into the Edinburgh school closures and the PFI scheme behind it is under renewed scrutiny. Here Unison’s senior Scottish official, a long-time PFI/PPP opponent, looks at why things went so badly wrong.