SNP budget attacked by pro-Union thinktank

From the ever-jaundiced Tom Gordon today:

THE Scottish Budget delivered by John Swinney overstates the amount of money going to public services and hides likely cuts to schools, a leading thinktank has said.

Leading thinktank eh?

The IFS likes to present itself as impartial but the evidence says otherwise.

In August, I wrote:

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has an ‘observation paper’ ie no actual research, just opinion, arguing that the Scottish Government’s plans to standardise care across the country will only make things worse.

They argue:

Does anyone think that NHS health boards should be broken up and shared amongst local councils? Does anyone think that a national care system should spend extra in some areas and less in others, based on ‘discretion?’

I don’t know who funded this report but it suits the corporate care sector who make billions in the UK, who pay the lowest wages and who avoid tax wherever they can.

We know from the Covid experience that a bit of standardisation, ie raising standards in the private sector, is just what we need.

After the first wave, the charitable MHA with a presence in Scotland did research into its own homes and discovered this: Large numbers of staff could have been unknowingly spreading coronavirus through care homes, according to the UK’s largest charitable care home provider. Data from MHA shows 42% of its staff members who recently tested positive were not displaying symptoms. Nearly 45% of residents who had a positive test were also asymptomatic. The MHA Chief Executive said: I think it’s very difficult not to see that the only real way that this can have come into our homes is through staff picking it up, just through the community contacts they would have had. I think that is what is so hard for all our staff, because they care. But if they don’t know they’ve contracted the virus, how can you manage this?

Then a large ONS study of 9 081 care homes in England found this: These emerging findings reveal some common factors in care homes with higher levels of infections amongst residents.These include prevalence of infection in staff, some care home practices such as more frequent use of bank or agency nurses or carers, and some regional differences (such as higher infection levels within care homes in London and the West Midlands). There is some evidence that in care homes where staff receive sick pay, there are lower levels of infection in residents.

And from Public Health Scotland as early as October 2020:

45.2% of the 275 privately-owned homes had an outbreak compared to 27.9% of the 41 local authority and 12.5% of the 32 voluntary homes.

That, on its own is a shocking comment on the infection control standards in the private homes and a newsworthy note on the performance of the voluntary sector.

90% of the largest 46 homes, with more than 90 residents, had outbreaks. That all of these are owned by large corporations is not reported in the data but given what we know about the demand for profit margins and economies of scale in that sector we can be sure that they are.

That too is a shocking indictment of these corporations. What is required now, going beyond the report, is an investigation of infection control and related matters in these places, including any evidence of careless use of agency staff moving between homes, of insecure contracts causing staff to be fearful of taking time off with symptoms and of failures in training and in the ordering of PPE.

and in March 2021:

Headlining all morning, no doubt three times today on Reporting Scotland, and on the website, selected findings from the Institute for Fiscal Studies:

BBC Scotland offers us these points, 5 days after they were published, just as we enter the first few days of an election campaign dominated by the issue of independence and the growing panic in the Unionist parties at the arrival of another pro-independence party in their life-support system, the regional vote:

The Scottish government’s funding per person is almost 30% higher than the English equivalent, a leading economic research group has said. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said this was mostly due to the Barnett Formula. It also found the Scottish government had used temporary coronavirus funding to pay for some permanent policies.

The IFS announce:

A range of Scottish Election Briefing Notes on tax, benefits and public spending, and the parties plans for the coming parliamentary term. Fiscal devolution and the resulting growing differences in policies compared to the rest of the UK, and the starkly different visions of Scotland’s future set out by the different parties, mean independent and impartial analysis (:-)) is more important than ever before (the Union was so threatened?).

The IFS does not appear to be planning to brief other than in Scotland. Who asked them to do it here?

The Scottish Policy Foundation did. Their leading directors:

Thought: Why do they appear so visibly for us to ‘expose’? Personal vanity, arrogance?

Read this again:

Lord Dunlop is a [unelected] Conservative peer in the House of Lords. He was created a [unelected] life peer in 2015 and [yet?] was subsequently appointed Scotland Office Minister.’

In what world is this? Ancient Persia? Westeros? 19th Century Britain? 21st Century Scotland?

Could you find two men more embedded in the British state, more dependent upon its favours, more willing to propagandise on its behalf?

At the very end of the website report, so little read, and, of course, tagged on in one sentence, ‘for balance’ in all the broadcasts:

The SNP’s Kate Forbes, the Scottish government’s finance secretary, said the Barnett Formula was “under attack” by the Westminster government, accusing ministers of “pork-barrel spending” through the levelling up fund. She said: “An independent Scotland would be able to make different choices, and give us all the economic levers needed to grow our economy and to make the public spending choices best suited to Scotland’s interests – such as not spending hundreds of billions of pounds on the Trident missile programme.”


7 thoughts on “SNP budget attacked by pro-Union thinktank

  1. John, you must have heard of “creative accountancy”. Or as Frank Carson used to put it, “it’s the way I tell ’em”.
    IFS claims that “The institute’s aim is to “advance education for the benefit of the public by promoting on a non-political basis the study and discussion of and the exchange and dissemination of information and knowledge concerning national economic and social effects and influences of existing taxes and proposed changes in fiscal systems.”
    Then again you will find here a robust critique of this
    Among the assumptions identified are that all politicians “misbehave”, that “net give aways” (I suspect we would call it free stuff) are a form of bribe. It’s been well known since at least Weber’s time (ie more than a century) that how we approach the data is a subjective and a value judgement. If you approach the data looking for something in particular there is a good chance you will find it was something I learned as a young post-grad.
    This poses two problems.
    First its inevitable – you have to make sense of data and the only way is to look for something or other in it, to try to get it to fit a certain pattern for instance.
    Secondly – and this is where such as IFS becomes particularly important – we cannot and should not ignore the privileging of certain perspectives over others. For instance the IFS – as above is “for the benefit of the public by promoting on a non-political basis”. It might not be true, but it’s where most people will start from because its how the Institute is portrayed in the media.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. HMS James Cook’s “Scottish budget could lead to service cuts, councils warn” piece, until a few moments ago leading the Scotland and Scotland/Politics pages in 1st place 18 hours later, also quoted the Institute for Fiscal Studies with “…Institute for Fiscal Studies accused the government of overstating the spending increases by comparing spending next year to last year’s budget and not taking into account in-year rises”.
    Further down was the SG spokesman’s response “This represents a cash increase of over £550m, or 4.5%, which is a real-terms increase of £160.6m, or 1.3%.”
    NOW JUST DWELL ON that last comment for a bit, then read Tom Gordon’s version of presumably the same IFS statement -“THE Scottish Budget delivered by John Swinney overstates the amount of money going to public services and hides likely cuts to schools, a leading thinktank has said”

    Anybody smell a giant rat with a permanent grump ?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Tory/Labour coalition in Edinburgh already planning cuts before the budget. They have, over the past few months plonked road blocks all over the city. I took photos when poss from the bus ( in yet another traffic jam and stationary), it was totally disorganised, with no notification as to why they were blocking major routes in and out of the city, and in some cases, they just seemed to be blocking the roads for the sake of it, a wee hole in the road for no reason whatsover, some pavements blocked so had to close part of the road for pedestrians to actually have access, it really appeared unecessary. I had, and have the feeling they were a)wasting council money and b)creating havoc re transport, mostly deliberately. A major route into the city is totally out of bounds due to the North Bridge repairs, let’s hope they get on with it fast then. If you look at disruption via Lothian buses, a couple of months back, eg, some roads were closed for ’emergency water repairs’, but with a warning it would be ongoing and no dates were given when it would be opened again. Made no sense.

      I smell something bad, I do not think Tory/Labour coalition councils will do any good for our towns and cities and fear they will do damage, for vindictive reasons.

      In fact also had email about allotments, SNP in Edinburgh council had a couple of sights planned for new ones, (much needed as the waiting list is huge since Covid), however, not surprisingly, they have now been scrapped. I can see the sights being sold off for dodgy developments, as Labour were so good at doing in the past. Note the ‘Turd’ slap bang in the middle of the city and can be seen from far and wide, it’s an insult to Edinburgh, capital city, and of course not far from Scotland’s parliament!

      It’s quite sinister and people need to keep an eye on just what the councils are spending their council tax on. Expect our Tory/Labour Council Tax bills to be huge next year as well.


  3. The unionist councils waste money like there is no tomorrow. Ruining the Cities,.

    ACC £30Million a a art gallery extension. Ruining the marble entrance. £300Million on an empty Conference centre. £30Million on an abnoxious mud pit. Instead of £20Million on UTG Project that would have regenerated the Cuty Centre. Closing road and creating traffic chaos. The mess of the City is a total eye sore. £200Million over 30 years (£7Million a year) on a high rise monstrosity. Instead of predestinisation and open space. £Billions in debt. They illegally sold the City on the stock exchange.Banned Labour councillors united with the minority Tories. Excluding the majority SNP..

    Unionist absolute waste of space and monies. Voters need to turnout and vote them out. People who support Independence need to get out and vote. Take someone with them. To get rid of corruption and support Ibdependence. Instead oInstead of sitting on their hands and blaming others. Vote SNP for Ibdependence and get rid of corruption. Westmibster causing misery, poverty and death to many people.

    The unionists councils are a disgrace of waste and corruption. Wasting £Billions of misspent monies then demanding more. A disgusting shower of mismanagement and cronyism. Wasting public monies and ruining Cities. Get out and vote them out. Vote SNP for Independence and prosperity. More equal and fair. Abetter society,


  4. Hello John. I tried to find the SPF wbsite but without success. I did find a linkedin page describing them as “…an independent, apolitical grant-making charitable foundation working to promote honest, insightful and objective policy research to the people of Scotland in order to inform public debate…” I couldn’t find anything about Douglas Alexander or Lord Dunlop but it lists Angus Robertson as an employee – can that be right? Also has Angus MacPherson of Noble and co as an employee?,of%20Scotland%20in%20order%20to%20inform%20public%20debate.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.