Thursday, September 22, 2011
John Swinney and Scottish Government feel the backlash as anger rises over budget, new George Laird idea, introduce a City Sovereign Fund
The Scottish budget came and went, austerity is on the way and people don’t like it.
For the poor, they are use to living in austerity, staying in bad housing, eating the lowest quality and poorest food and wearing the cheapest of clothes.
It is a fairly unpleasant existence that most of the public don’t have to endure, however the poor make their budgets balance.
They have no choice.
They don’t have financial reserves to draw on and no opportunity to make money.
Yesterday; saw the Scottish Government to continue with a public sector pay freeze, factor in the rise in inflation running towards 5% and those in employment are seeking their pay going backwards.
The unions are unhappy but the facts remain, the Scottish Government has had its budget grant cut by Westminster.
That means cuts travel downwards.
Despite the gloom, John Swinney expressed hope of a “modest” pay increase in 2013 but wouldn’t be drawn on how much.
The PCS union speaks of “anger as never before” but there isn’t the money to continue as before, public sector reform of out dated models is needed.
Politicians seem welded to the idea that there can be continually growth in the economy, like a balloon, too much air and it will burst.
Mike Kirby, Scottish secretary of Unison, said:
“While we welcome the news on public sector pensions as it applies to local government, the Finance Secretary had the discretion to carry this across the public services and chose not to do so. We are disappointed but not surprised by the very unhelpful level of spin put on the Government’s discussions with us”.
“Although his announcement removes the threat of industrial action in local government, we still have serious issues across the public sector with many thousands of our members still facing unprecedented attacks on their pensions. We’re angry at the continuation of the pay freeze which will affect hundreds of thousands of low-paid workers, who have already faced a real-term pay cut for the past two years. There’s also no evidence that the £250 payment for workers earning under £21,000 will be universally applied.”
So, the SNP Government is facing serious challenges, as we head towards a tipping point, things are bad now, they are going to get worse, much worse, to say everything is going to be okay is naïve.
Grahame Smith, general secretary of the STUC, said:
“The big minus is Mr Swinney’s treatment of public service workers. Having criticised the UK Government for combining a pay freeze with a pension contributions cash-grab, Mr Swinney has proceeded to take the same path in Scotland.”
Everyone needs money, I would suggest as a measure because we are in such a crisis that the Scottish Government continues with their paying for a council tax freeze but allow councils to increase council tax bills by a modest 3% to be placed into a new City Sovereign Fund.
The City Sovereign Fund can then be used in part to charge up emergency funds with the bulk being strategically invested for the purposes of growth.
This is the new George Laird idea that I want the SNP Government to adopt, the monies collected through council tax, this is just a mechanism.
People will go along with my idea if they can see and have explained the advantages of the City Sovereign Fund.
Cosla finance spokesman Kevin Keenan said:
“We are disappointed but not surprised with the very unhelpful level of spin put on the Government’s discussions with us ahead of today’s announcement.”
Citing protection of police and teacher numbers, he said:
“It has to be fully understood that none of the things the Government wants to prioritise come without a cost attached – and that by prioritising some areas you are immediately damaging others even further. The hard-nosed facts are that in reality Scottish local government is going to be 7% down over the period of this spending review. When you add in £1 billion worth of demand on the vital services we provide that takes us to 15% down; and that can mean only a significant reduction in local services and local spend.”
And it all can be solved by the City Sovereign Fund.
As well as looking over his shoulder at union displeasure, his political opponents aren’t far behind in condemnation.
Tory spokesman Gavin Brown said:
“This Government ought to be judged by what it does, as opposed to just what it says. They’ve said the economy is the most important thing but the reality and rhetoric do not match together.”
Willie Rennie, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said the Scottish Government had “dodged and delayed endlessly” on taking tough decisions.
Green MSP Patrick Harvie said:
“There is something fundamentally wrong with a spending plan where the motorways budget is over three times the size of the housing and regeneration budget, and these figures are moving in opposite directions every year.”
Scotland Office Minister David Mundell said:
“It’s high time Scottish ministers accepted that tough decisions come with being in Government and stop constantly trying to blame others.”
So, the Scottish Government is facing serious challenges, it means that radical thinking is needed.
As the person who proposed the Scottish National Police Force and National Fire Service at the SNP National Assembly on the 4th September 2010, I think the SNP should convene the Assembly again.
I am publicly calling on the SNP Government to look at my new idea, the City Sovereign Fund.
Both my previous ideas are now Scottish Government policy, this should be also.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University