Bountiful fiscal future or ‘fairy gold’ – An independent Scotland would require a significant cut in spending or increase in taxes, over & above that already announced by the UK government, in order to put their long-term public finances onto a sustainable footing. The scale of this fiscal tightening is likely to be greater than that required for the UK as a whole. These are the main findings of new Institute for Fiscal Studies research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
The research uses a model of the UK’s & Scotland’s long-run public finances to project levels of public revenues & spending over the next 50 years. Even under the most optimistic scenario the IFS consider, the long-run ‘fiscal gap’ in Scotland would be 1.9% of national income compared to 0.8% of national income for the UK as a whole.
‘Plan B’ for the navy’s nuclear submarine base Faslane – With the publication of the Scottish Government’s White Paper this week in mind, our Editor wonders whether the rUK politicians are beginning to consider how to cope with the problem of an ‘independent’ Scotland’s demands for the Navy to move its nuclear submarines out of the Faslane base in Scotland a.s.a.p. following a ‘Yes’ vote.
While it has been generally surmised that the ‘promised’ contract to build the navy’s new Type 26 Frigates would not be placed with a shipyard outside the rUK, or could be ‘won’ by the Clyde shipyards without an open competition within the EU, a recent session of the HOC – Scottish Affairs Committee caught our Editor’s attention.
If you listen to the segment indicated, it appears that rUK could (under a derogation using article 346), possibly assign the contract to the Clyde shipyards as part of a deal with an independent Scotland for the right to keep using the base for its nuclear submarines ‘in order to maintain our defence & security’. As our nuclear submarines are such a key part of our defence forces and any immediate need to move their base would (even if it was possible) cause massive disruption, a derogation on this basis seems plausible.
From a negotiating point of view, the situation would see a return of the Cold War MAD (Mutually Assured Desturuction) policy – failure to agree would see ‘destruction’ of rUK’s nuclear force and of the Clyde’s ship-building industry.
Will it be enough to really change the culture of NHS management? - Plans have been announced to make the NHS more open, more accountable and more focused on safety & compassion. The government has published a full response to the 290 recommendations made by Robert Francis, following the public inquiry in to the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
This follows the government’s initial response in February 2013, which included the introduction of a new hospital inspection regime and legislation for a duty of candour on NHS organisations so they have to be open with families & patients when things go wrong.
No chance of gaining qualifications if they are not physically in school - Too many children, often the most vulnerable, are either missing out on F/T education or not getting the P/T education they are entitled to, according to an Ofsted report. Many LAs do not know how much education some pupils, such as excluded children and those with mental & physical health needs who do not attend school in the usual way, receive.
The report finds that some local authorities are failing to properly arrange and monitor the effectiveness of education for children directly in their care. Only a third of the local authorities visited for the survey keep a close enough eye on these children and gather information & analyse it centrally.
A year of bringing hope or at least closure - The UK Missing Persons Bureau website, the first of its kind in the UK, is dedicated to uncovering the mystery behind the unidentified persons found across the country. By publishing detail of cases the site aims to provide peace & resolution to the family & friends of missing persons.
Contained within the database of approximately 1,000 cases, some of which have remained unsolved for up to 70 years, are details including distinguishing features, clothing, jewellery & photographs (where appropriate). The hope is that someone out there will recognise who they belong to and finally provide an identity for the individual.
Army have a NEET way of solving even civilian problems - A pioneering project in which the Army helps long-term jobseekers become more employable began last week. Midlands SPEAR (Supporting People into Employment with the Army Reserve) is a pilot scheme, which has caught the attention of government ministers and, if successful, could be rolled out across the UK. The 4-week course is designed to boost the skills & confidence of unemployed people aged 18 to 30 and involves team-building & motivation, health & safety and plant/power tools safe operation, and workplace first aid.
Thinking about doing a degree? - In April-June 2013, people with a degree in medicine or dentistry had the highest employment rate of all graduates, at 95%, followed by those with media & information studies degrees (93%), a report from ONS shows. The graduate employment rate was lowest for those with humanities degrees (84%), followed by arts (85%), languages (87%), education (88%) and social sciences & law (89%). The report also shows an upward trend in the proportion of recent graduates who are working in what can be classified as non-graduate jobs.
SMEs targeted - The NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit are aware of a mass email spamming event that is ongoing, where people are receiving emails that appear to be from banks and other financial institutions. The emails may be sent out to tens of millions of UK customers, but appear to be targeting SMEs in particular. This spamming event is assessed as a significant risk.
Bid for healthier students - FE & sixth form colleges across England are invited to bid for a share of £5.8m of National Lottery investment from Sport England’s Further Education Activation Fund. This fund aims to boost the number of students taking part in sport by supporting colleges to design & develop projects tailored to the sporting needs of their students. Applications will close on 20 January 2014.
Many would, but will all merit the appointments? - Companies listed on stock exchanges in the EU will have to bring in transparent recruitment procedures so that by 2020, at least 40% of their non-executive directors are women, under a draft EU directive voted by Parliament last week. MEPs propose that companies which fail to introduce such procedures should face penalties
Added to which, lack of experience could make mistakes more likely - The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is warning employers about the importance of making sure temporary staff – who regularly handle personal information - receive adequate data protection training. The problem has been highlighted following 4 data breaches at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust - 3 of the incidents related to the work of temporary staff.