‘… the challenge remains for Derek Mackay as to how best to balance his resource budget with major commitments like additional support for the NHS, more money for childcare and public sector pay uplifts all to be paid for.’
‘Having failed to resolve these differences prior to the Act, as well as a myriad of other problems, the realities of integration are now coming to the fore, while the baton has passed to the SPA. Charged with providing assurance and oversight, the Authority has some exceptionally hard decisions ahead on what is a fiendishly complex project, against a backdrop of rising demand on police services and increasing cost pressure.’
Wonk of the year Lucy: ‘The signs are that the wrong people are being made to pay for current higher education policy in Scotland, in skewed debt or lost support, restricted opportunities and squeezed funding overall. As far as I can recall, no-one in Scottish university senior management has ever argued with me about this in public, nor got in touch to tell me privately that they disagree’.
The upcoming budget debate is an important opportunity for policymakers from all sides to set out what they would do, yes on taxation, but also on expenditure and growth. The new income tax powers provide some measure of relief, but it’s far from the only game in town’.
‘With only eighteen months until integration, the fact that the status of BTP Scotland officers transferring to Police Scotland remains unresolved should ring further loud alarm bells…At this stage in the process, I’d argue that the Scottish Government would do well to take stock and decide what price it is prepared to put on this merger’.
‘The decision to integrate BTP in Scotland may be political; however, the merger is a matter of public safety and public money, and the Government has a duty to demonstrate that it is not taking undue risks with either’. Foremost expert backs calls for merger to be put on hold.
The UK Government has published plans to maintain a border-free zone with Ireland once it has left the EU. Analysing the long-awaited paper, Professor Christina Boswell, finds it knocks out one of the main arguments for refusing Scotland more autonomy over its immigration policy
‘The prevention of DRDs in Scotland requires an immediate and radical harm reduction led response, developed in collaboration with people who use drugs….The tragedy of Scotland’s spiralling deaths from drug use is everyone’s problem. The time for brave leadership and concerted action is now.
‘While the risks and complexities associated with extricating BTPs operations in Scotland are now coming to the fore, the advantages look increasingly distant.’
‘It’s now also clear that standing up to the political impulse to go national, fast, would have enabled the costs to be pinned down better before the long-term commitment was made…