Warning over division of Smith Commission powers


The cross-party Smith Commission meets in Edinburgh.

The cross-party Smith Commission meets in Edinburgh.

By @ShaunyNews Via: http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/warning-over-division-of-smith-commission-powers-1-3681227

We knew there would be issues due to the watered down ‘Smith Commission’ Labour and Tory’s alike had a chance to make this easier for everyone but now, sadly we DO and WILL have tax issues. On one hand Scottish Politicians can’t vote on English laws for anything yet we here in Scotland, say if a tax break was given will make what we bring in less. This is an utter mess, the SNP should demand a ‘Back to the drawing board’ here. We MUST vote SNP People, otherwise we could find ourselves in no man’s land (Figure of speech) This is a shambles in the making. Hollyrood need to know yearly what income the have to work with, this will make it difficult for John Swinney to work his magic, the man can only do what he can do. Thankfully we have another bite at this Scotland, we can’t mess this up, we must inform, be informed and make sure people know EXACTLY what a Labour vote means.

THE `pick’n’mix’ deal on new post-referendum powers for Scotland could turn “messy” and leave Holyrood unable to make any “radical shift” in policy, economic and tax experts have warned.

MSPs were today warned that flagship proposals to hand some taxes to the Scottish Parliament – and leave others at Westminster – is a recipe for conflict between the Scottish and UK Governments. And Scots will be left in the dark over which taxes are Scottish, according to tax chiefs who warned it is “very difficult to pull apart” UK taxes.

The UK Government last month published legislation to enact the recent Smith agreement on more powers over tax and welfare for Scotland. It followed `the vow’ made the main pro-union party leaders in the final days of the referendum campaign to devolve sweeping new powers to Scotland after a No vote.

Economist Professor Anton Muscatelli, the principal of Glasgow University, told Holyrood’s devolution committee that he had concerns about the deal. “It reserves, for example, the personal allowance, it reserves national insurance contributions and one of the big issues is around in work benefits. “And by reserving universal credit, it does mean the whole interaction between welfare payments and low pay and income taxation is therefore not brought into play.“I do think that will create and potentially lead to tensions going forward – so how that is managed within future legislation will be hugely important.”

National insurance

Prof Muscatelli said national insurance is part of the “overall tax structure” and Scotland’s budget would effectively be cut if this is lowered UK-wide. “By not devolving national insurance, I think it creates the potential for conflict and it will impact on the Scottish tax base.”

Similarly, if the UK Government cuts the personal allowance – a tax hike – Scotland could respond by introducing a zero tax rate to cover such a change and effectively wipe this out. But Prof Muscatelli said: “It would force Scotland’s hand – and this where it gets a bit messy by not devolving the personal allowance.” He said it would have been better to devolve “all income tax and employment income to Scotland.”

Charlotte Barbour, Head of Taxation, at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland (ICAS) said the package offers a “variety of different taxes” to Holyrood.

Under the deal Scotland will get control over income tax bands – but not the personal allowance or national insurance. Air passenger duty and the Aggregates Levy will be devolved, while Holyrood will be “assigned” half of VAT revenues raised in Scotland. But there will be significant “joint responsibilities” with Westminster still in control of HMRC – the UK taxman.

“Scottish powers will have to interact with that and mesh together as well as going into the welfare side of it,” she said. “One of the issues that come out of that is that I’m not sure that a lot of people amongst the public have a full understanding of what Scottish taxes are.”

Ms Barbour said: “I think it’s very difficult to pull any one part of the UK taxes apart – it leads to these kind of set ups as to whether national insurance and income tax goes together.” The tax expert said this meant limits on Holyrood’s ability to push any through meaningful change in policy because income tax is “shared and over and above that interacts with other taxes.” She said; “I don’t think there’s a lot of scope to radically change what you’ve got here.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-30900095

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/eebc2ed0-74c3-11e4-b30b-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3QsJJwZf7

Extra £1Billion to be invested in Scotland’s Education, Schools, Hospitals and Transport Infrastructure


Scotland is the only state in Europe never to have a deficit

Scotland is the only state in Europe never to have a deficit

 @ShaunyGibson – Used to be @ ShaunyNews Via Various news agencies, links below

AN extra £1billion is to be invested in the Scottish Government’s scheme which funds major projects such as new hospitals, schools and transport infrastructure. Finance Secretary John Swinney said the money is being made available by extending the Non-Profit Distributing (NPD) method of funding. He also revealed an additional £31.2million will be invested over the next two years to help provide the infrastructure needed for an expansion of childcare.

This cash will go to local councils, along with an extra £12million towards the provision of free school meals for pupils in primaries one to three. A further £10.3million is going to the Scottish Government’s Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme – which assists those buying a new build home – in 2014-15, while another £12 million is to be invested in measures aimed at helping young people into work, such as the modern apprenticeship scheme.

In addition, £1million will be spent both this financial year and next financial year to help mitigate the impact of UK Government welfare reforms, Swinney told MSPs.

“We cannot undo all of the damage of welfare reform, the austerity agenda or the consequences of Westminster’s economic mismanagement,” he said. “The actions of this Government demonstrate however our determination to take the initiative where we can.” But the announcement of additional cash for childcare and free school meals sparked claims from the opposition that the Scottish Government had failed to fully fund these. Swinney’s budget for 2014-15 included funding to provide more free childcare places, along with money for free school meals

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Labour finance spokesman Iain Gray said at the time the Finance Secretary had been “adamant then that he had fully funded those commitments”. But he said the allocation of additional money was “a straightforward admission that the commitments made in January were never fully funded”. Tories and Liberal Democrats also pressed Swinney on the cash for childcare. Conservative finance spokesman Gavin Brown said the Finance Secretary had “stated that we still don’t understand the capital cost implications of childcare expansion”.

Brown hit out: “This was a policy announced months ago, if they don’t understand the cost implications when does he envisage they will understand the capital implications of that policy?” Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “I want to bring childcare provision in line with that of England’s where 40 per cent of two-year-olds, beginning with those from poorer backgrounds, benefit from free childcare. “Two-year-olds cannot wait forever. John Swinney must tell parents when he will listen to my calls to build a fairer society and expand free childcare so that more children are given the best start in life.”

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The new spending he announced will see the Scottish Government invest a total of £91million on capital infrastructure for the childcare and early learning sector. The extra cash for the Help to Buy scheme would take the overall investment in this to £235 million over three years. “I recognise the benefits of that scheme to the construction sector and wider economy and the important role it plays in supporting aspiring homeowners throughout Scotland,” Mr Swinney said.

Dumfries and Galloway Council will also get a one-off award of £500,000 to help it deal with the aftermath of recent flooding in the area. Swinney said: “I fully understand the extreme situation that the local area has faced since the turn of the year and this grant will allow the council to carry out the required essential repair works.”

He said overall the package of spending would “support jobs, skills development and children and families, adding to the decisive steps this Government is already taking to help Scotland’s economic recovery and build for the future”. Swinney stated: “Whenever there has been an opportunity to further invest in our economy, this Government has taken it. That is why I am pleased to announce a number of measures that will boost our economy, create jobs, support skills development and strengthen Scotland’s infrastructure. “We will develop plans to extend our current programme of NPD with an additional £1billion investment taking us through to 2019-20.

“This investment will build on the successes of the current programme, delivering colleges, schools, roads, hospitals and community health facilities across Scotland. It will also provide the construction sector with the long term certainty of a future pipeline of work. “We know that every additional £100million of construction activity is estimated to support over 1300 jobs. And then we get the long term benefits of using the asset.”

Swinney said First Minister Alex Salmond had announced free childcare was being extended to more of Scotland’s most vulnerable two-year-olds in January.

The Finance Secretary told MSPs: “This will benefit the children and also open up employment opportunities for their families by removing childcare as a barrier to work. “To ensure we have the physical capacity to meet our commitment to expand childcare, I have decided to allocate all the capital consequentials from the UK Budget to local government.” He also said the “recent discussions” with the local government body Cosla had persuaded him to allocate the extra £12 million to councils to help provide free school meals for younger pupils.

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/scottish-government-announces-1bn-boost-for-infrastructure.1396367781

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/extra-1bn-invested-scotlands-schools-3337329

http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/politics/1-billion-spending-plans-announced-by-scottish-government-1.298426

http://www.out-law.com/en/articles/2014/april/scottish-government-to-make-additional-1bn-available-for-infrastructure-through-non-profit-distributing/

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Swinney anger over ‘breach’ of Smith Commission plans


Like most is unhappy

Like most is unhappy

By @ShaunyGibson – Used to be @ ShaunyNews

Via: http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/scottish-politics/swinney-anger-over-breach-of-smith-commission-plans.1417721657

I think many of us are unhappy at this, but I believe when Nicola and Alex say “Scotland will be Independent” They mean it as in “Soon” Alex said all along “I will not walk away from First leader regardless of the result” Then he walked away. Hmm. I think I see a cunning plan 😉 Watch this space folks. SNP have something up their sleeves

The commission recommended that the work programme, which helps jobseekers find and keep employment, should be transferred from Westminster to Holyrood when the current commercial arrangements expire. The Scottish Government said this should mean the transfer taking place in March 2016, but the UK Government has extended the contract by a year.

Scottish Skills Secretary Roseanna Cunningham accused the Westminster Government of “breath-taking arrogance”, and wrote to UK Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith to complain. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) said it was “utterly appalled” by the move to extend the contract. Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said the decision was made in August, before the Smith Commission was set up.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney, giving evidence to Holyrood’s Devolution Committee, said Ms Cunningham’s remarks were “understandable and appropriate”. He said: “The Smith Commission recommended that on the completion of the work programme contracts, these should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament and that’s in the spring of 2016, and we’re now being advised, without our consent, that that’s been delayed a year in a process which is not yet complete. “What we get to in all of this analysis is the whole question of good faith. We need to get on in good faith and one of the things which I think undermines that good faith is seeing the goalposts being moved on an important issue the Smith Commission has judged upon.”

But earlier, the committee heard from Mr Carmichael, who said: “First of all, I think it is important to say that this was a decision taken in August, so some of the breathless commentary about this being ‘a dreadful decision that was designed to thwart the will of the Smith Commission’ is not justified because, frankly, this decision was taken long before the Smith Commission was even set up.” Lucy McTernan, deputy chief executive of SCVO, said: “We are utterly appalled by the UK Government’s move to extend its work programme contracts when it was agreed by the Smith Commission that it would transfer to the Scottish Parliament as soon as current contracts expired. “But our disappointment doesn’t lie so much in the almost immediate failure to keep to the agreement as in the fact that it’s impossible to justify why such a broken and failing system would ever be continued. “We’re completely dismayed by this delay in ridding Scotland of this exploitative, punitive and under-performing programme.”

SNP MSP Linda Fabiani, a member of the Devolution Committee, said that the sooner the programme is devolved, the sooner it can be “put right”. “Quite why the UK Government thinks it is acceptable to completely ignore the Smith Commission proposals and press ahead with its failed scheme is baffling,” she said. A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Unemployment in Scotland fell by 38,000 over the last year and our priority is to ensure as many people are helped into work as possible while fulfilling our commitment to the Smith Commission’s proposals on devolution. “Maintaining continuity of support is important. That is why we are allowing time for the powers to be devolved and for the Scottish Government to build its new programme to make sure long-term unemployed people get the help and support they need to find a job and have the security of a regular wage.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met with Mr Carmichael today to discuss the issue. She said: “I stressed the need to make sure that the UK Government signs no new Work Programme contracts for Scotland as these powers are to be devolved under the Smith Commission recommendations. “It would not be fair or right that Scotland is tied into this programme longer than it needs to be. Mr Carmichael has pledged to speak to the Department of Work and Pensions on the issue, and they should now rethink their plans. “Westminster now needs to act to make sure plans for the transfer of the powers recommended for devolution by the Smith Commission are taken forward as soon as possible.”

The politicians also discussed extending the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds for the next Scottish Parliament elections in 2016 after recommendations in the Smith Commission.

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