The lowlights of the announcements today include:
- So called efficiency savings increasing to 3%. This is just a weak mask for cuts across the board in every department.
- A public sector pay freeze for those above £21k and £250 for those below. Even that concession is no where near inflation and constitutes a pay cut for the low paid.
- A continuation of the Council Tax freeze. A tax cut for wealthy home owners at the expense of services, jobs and increased charges for those who can least afford to pay.
- The reintroduction of PFI funded from revenue with all the associated costs. Years of cash wasted on the Scottish Futures Trust only to return to a failed policy.
- The total abrogation of local democracy with a finance settlement and services directed by the Scottish Government. That is unless any council takes the so called choice of a double digit Council Tax rise.
- One of those directed spending requirements is on police numbers. As a consequence we are likely to have even more police officers replacing civilian specialists instead of patrolling our streets.
When we do the detailed number crunching over the coming days I am sure we will find more smoke and mirrors as is normal in these spending reviews. The real villain here is of course the UK Con-Dem coalition and their ideological spending cuts. But the Scottish Government also had choices to make today. Sadly, they took some pretty bad ones.