The Scottish Parliament Finance Committee has published its report on the budget strategy process. Their key concern is that "the evidence of adequate preparation is at best patchy" and that there needs to be some longer term planning.
Sensibly the committee recognised that there are no 'magic bullets', including the siren calls from some business leaders for privatisation, as if this is somehow a free service if they provide it. The report does reflect wider enthusiasm for shared services. In principle this is a good idea, but in practice there are substantial difficulties and the cost savings are unproven and at best long term. They also recognised our concerns over the lack of effective equality impact assessments of planned cuts and the impact cuts will have on services and the wider economy.
This wider impact of cuts on the economy is beginning to get some wider coverage. Last Sunday's papers started to examine what the loss of 30,000 jobs could mean to the Scottish economy. I followed my comments there in an interview with the BBC today highlighting our research that shows that up to 70p of every £1 in public sector wages are spent in the local economy. Talking to members worried about their jobs, I know that they are already putting off spending decisions on the sort of consumer items that underpin private sector jobs.
The result could well be the sort of double-dip recession that a number of economic pundits have predicted. You don't need to be an economist to see the impact of cuts, not just on the social wage, but on the wider Scottish economy as well.