Scottish news bulletin: 11th March 2009

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All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions. Where there is a link to a newspaper’s website, the relevant page reference is blue and underlined.

Economy

The Great Recession: The global economy will be slammed into reverse later this year, in the greatest recession of ‘our lifetime’, international financiers warned yesterday. The economic crisis could even lead to wars as millions of people fall back into poverty, the IMF said. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 28, Telegraph page B1, Guardian page 25)

Mortgages: The Royal Bank of Scotland pledged yesterday an extra £500m of mortgage lending in Scotland through its participation in the government’s asset protection scheme. (Herald page 1, Telegraph page 2, Courier page 3, Press and Journal page 1)

Economic forecast: The economy is likely to shrink by at least another 1.5 percent in the first quarter of the year, economists warned yesterday, after official figures showed manufacturing output suffered the largest annual decline since 1981. (FT
page 1)

PM apology: Gordon Brown said yesterday that he took responsibility for ‘everything that’s happened’ in his time in office, but declined to apologise for the economic crisis. He insisted that nobody had expected a global banking crisis which ‘reverberated around the world’.
(Press and Journal page 13)

Local Government

Low-cost homes: Plans to spend £644 million on building at least 6500 affordable homes were announced by the Scottish Government yesterday. The investment over the next 12 months in homes for rent or low-cost ownership is expected to have an impact on council waiting lists and give a welcome boost to the country’s construction industry. (Scotsman page 14, Herald page 10)

VisitScotland: Edinburgh City council has rejected a plea from the Scottish Government to rethink a massive funding cut for VisitScotland. Councillors have voted to go ahead with plans to create an independent tourism body in the capital, at the expense of giving the national tourism agency a £557,617 annual grant. (Scotsman page 6)

Health

Minimum Alcohol Prices: The introduction of minimum prices for alcohol will be delayed until next year. Opposition parties yesterday forced the Scottish Government to introduce primary legislation from scratch for its proposals to tackle Scotland’s problems with alcohol. (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 1)

Education

St Andrews University: Scotland’s oldest and most successful university, St Andrews, is to reverse the policy that has won it a reputation for elitism and will offer generous bursaries to students from deprived backgrounds, its new principal, Louise Richardson, has declared. (Times
page 3)

Scotland’s exam results: Tens of thousands of Scottish children are leaving school without gaining basic qualifications, particularly those from deprived backgrounds. Scottish Government exam statistics published yesterday revealed almost 60,000 pupils finished school last year without obtaining a certificate at Standard Grade foundation level or above. Geoff Mawdsley, Director of Reform Scotland said ‘this shows the system is not achieving one of its most important objectives, which is to extend opportunity and social mobility.’ (Daily Express page 10)

Politics

2p Income tax cut: The Scottish Liberal Democrats have shelved their key policy of cutting income tax by 2p in the pound until Holyrood is handed more powers. (Telegraph page 6)

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