Constant cuts aren't helping

The power to make decisions about public money always comes with responsibility.

Loading Comments
Share
Print

At a time like this, with both public budgets and household budgets under severe pressure, we should be especially focused on trying to make sure that we achieve the greatest possible benefit when we make these choices.

Over the next couple of months MSPs will be debating the Scottish budget.

With the UK Government imposing big cuts, and planning even bigger cuts to come, and a lack of power and will to raise taxes from the wealthy, something will have to give.

One area where savings have been made over the last few years is public sector pay. Like his UK counterpart, John Swinney as Scotland's Finance Secretary has imposed a pay freeze on the vast majority of people working to deliver public services, to keep the pay bill under control.

In the next year he's proposing the same limit of 1% increases as the UK Chancellor, which amounts to another big real-terms cut, as it won't even come close to keeping up with price rises.

I understand why he took this course when the cuts began. He saw a simple choice – freeze pay, or start laying people off.

Better to keep people in work, even with less in their pay packets each month, than to see them join the dole queues.

But it's no longer that simple. Among the other choices Mr Swinney is making is to shift hundreds of millions of pounds into capital spending – investing in construction projects, he thinks, will aid economic recovery.

If he had the powers of independence already there might be something in that. By spending more he could try and stimulate the economy as other governments are doing.

But the fact is that his budget is fixed; he can't borrow, and he can't do much (even if he wanted to) to raise more from the likes of Starbucks, Amazon and other big businesses. So his capital investment comes at the expense of other parts of the Scottish budget, like the pay bill.

There's a good case for cancelling part of this transfer to capital spending, and letting public sector pay at least keep up with inflation.

This would move money from public budgets into household budgets, and their extra spending power would do just as much to help economic recovery. Continual pay cuts will help no-one.

Finance

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on Evening Times on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

111005

Have you got a story?

Contact the news desk on 0141 302 6520 or email news@eveningtimes.co.uk
A weekly round up of social highlights

A weekly round up of social highlights

Cat's Eyes on Glasgow

SPOTY, Cinderella at the SECC and festive things to do.

Times Out

Entertainment

Lifestyle

TV Advert
Gail’s Gab

Gail’s Gab

Gail Sheridan is a mother-of-one and wife to Tommy and she likes to get political with the hot topic of the week in her column Gail’s Gab.

Michelle McManus

Michelle McManus

Sussed in the City

What a year for me...it’s a wonderful life!

Janice Bell

Janice Bell

You couldn’t make up half the stuff that happens to PA Janice Bell- some of the jams she gets herself into are worth a story or two.