Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Are SNP Considering a Budget to Do Some Good?

On the first day of debate in the Scottish budget both Nick Clegg in Westminster and Tavish Scott in Holyrood highlighted in different ways the failure of our banks to lend. While Nick asked in the Commons how a bank we bailed out, which is not lending to domestic businesses to protect jobs, is leading to an American takeover of a UK company that will lead to losses, Tavish tried to deal with the SNP budget.

Writing to all members he says:

"The economic background is serious. Unemployment continues to rise in Scotland, when it is falling in the rest of Britain. The gap in economic growth between Scotland and the UK is now widening to Scotland’s disadvantage.

"Liberal Democrats have taken up the challenge to work with the SNP Government to persuade them to take forward our proposals that will build a fairer society and a sustainable economy.

"We are discussing practical plans. We can do more to give Scottish business a fighting chance of getting through the recession. Many businesses still can't get the lending they need from their banks. Scottish manufacturing – including the Borders textiles industry that I highlighted in Parliament last week – needs help. The Scottish Budget needs to help strengthen these businesses, putting them in a good place to reap the rewards of economic recovery."

He went on to point out that the total salary bill for those earning more that £100,000 is £413million and is £651million for those over £80,000. And that is just 5,300 people out of half a million in the public sector. Pointing out that ordinary people cannot understand how the highest earners in the NHS are also able to nominate themselves for bonuses worth up to £75,000 a year on top of such salaries.

As well as the pay of the top civil servants he also urges the SNP Government to have a hard look at the quangos, including the Scottish Futures Trust continues to consume millions of tax pounds but builds absolutely nothing.

At the time he wrote that email he said:

"It is disappointing that the SNP Government has not moved to change its Budget yet. That is why we couldn't vote for the Budget today. We have given them the benefit of three more weeks to respond to our positive and constructive approach."

Within hours though the BBC reported that John Swinney is looking to freeze the pay of top civil servants and is also considering Lib Dem demands to cut the pay of the highest public sector earners.

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