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The truths they don't want you to read....

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Scottish Budget


The Devil is in the detail, but it looks like a pretty good job, inside a very difficult set of limits.

That's not to say it is good; merely that an apparently adequate job has been done of managing the cuts.

It's not a "fair budget" as the brown-nosers would have it.  Indeed, the SNP are using the same excuses and rationale that the ConDems used about the UK cuts just a few weeks back.

The obvious problems are the massive cuts to Housing, Education and Enterprise, and the continuing desire to fund the unfundable, such as the abolition of prescription charges.  I remain very bemused that our business doesn't have to pay any business rates whilst services are being cut due to a lack of cash.

I've spent the weekend speaking to friends who work in some of the sectors worst affected, and the mood is most definately one of dispondency.

The instruction from on high is not to have any redundancies, which in reality means that there potentially are going to be staff sitting around with nothing to do, as the budget for achieving anything has been removed.

I'm reliably informed that the Bord na Gaidhlig cuts will mean the end of some projects, and some temporary posts being lost, and I suspect that the same pattern will repeat itself acrioss other sectors too.

And this all takes us back to the absence of a coherent policy for rural areas.

School closures?  The only people who can stop the school closures will be the Government either by (a) providing the funds to keep the schools open on 'strategic' grounds, or (b) refusing the Council the permission to make the closure, and insisting they find the money.  Neither - frankly - is a realistic solution; and certainly not a long term plan.

The massive housing cuts are much more insidious, and I think will have a bigger and deeper impact here than any other element.  The local housing strategy was described as 'being in tatters' as a result of these cuts with all sorts of small and large projects unlikely to proceed.

Worse still, as this is only a one-year budget, no-one knows if the situation will get better or worse on the other side of the election, and no-one can plan for even the most simple of strategies about staffing, service delivery or capital spending when they have no idea of what their budget is likely to be.

Finding and delivering the cuts efficiency savings is going to be much more of a challenge than it might appear, and there is most definitely going to be a large impact on services right across the board.  And right before an election.

As I get more specifics, I'll share them with you..

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