Westminster is to blame for economy

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I’m afraid Julia Brown (Letters, 12 February) suffers from blinkered vision regarding where responsibility lies for our plight in Scotland.

Virtually all of her allegations are associated with Labour mismanagement and profligacy during their 13 years of power there.

Her forebodings about the council tax freeze are ill-judged; that was a protective measure against Labour councils ratcheting-up council tax to offset cuts required to rebalance public sector funding.

Anyway, participating councils were compensated from central Holyrood funds.

The SNP government is entitled to insist on councils meeting its requirements on teacher numbers. After all, were these not met, the nature of the beast means that councils would shirk responsibility while blame would be attached to the SNP – it always is!

I doubt Julia Brown would attract much public support for her solution of removing the council tax freeze to cover free childcare problems – why not charge the users?

However, it is not solely the imposed cuts that have impacted upon our funding – the Barnett formula, instigated by Labour in 1978-79, currently exerts a 1 per cent shortfall on our block grant funding from Westminster – that represents an annual reduction of £250m on the £25bn grant.

Regarding the oil price fall, the £6bn loss she mentions would have been largely offset by the next £5bn tranche of cuts expected on our funding which would have forced upon us compliance with reality.

It is not rocket science to determine that the faults lie with Westminster.

However, Julia Brown disregards the breaking news that the UK government will lose some £200bn of oil revenue, always assuming that the price does not rise again!

Douglas R Mayer

Thomson Crescent

Currie

As an independent business organisation we noted with interest the speech by First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon 
MSP, on the need for greater public spending to boost the economy (your report, 12 February).

The best way to address the challenges presented by our public sector deficit and debt position is indeed, as stated by the First Minister, to grow the economy.

That means investment in infrastructure, skills and innovation, developing and implementing an economic growth strategy.

In addition, there needs to be a recognition that the Scottish economy differs from the UK as a whole. So that strategy should also have a Scottish dimension. As a business organisation we are looking for Scotland to become one of the top five wealthiest countries in the world.

Fundamental to delivering this is an ambitious economic growth strategy, developed and implemented through a strong partnership between the government, public and private sectors, as well as civic society. This would echo the long-term partnership approach that exists in the likes of Denmark, Chicago and Singapore.

The Danish Globalisation Council, for example, was established between the government, public, private sector and civic society to respond to the global economic environment and develop a national economic strategy.

While we are in the midst of an election campaign this is an issue that transcends party politics and we would hope that all the major parties would endorse this approach.

Dan Macdonald

N-56

George Street

Edinburgh