Wednesday, 7 September 2011


The main theme of the government’s programme this year, it seems to me, is jobs. It’s not the only theme, but it matters so much, because by creating employment, we can stimulate the economy of Scotland. So what does that involve?

There is an Opportunities for All scheme which will provide a learning or training place for every 16-19 year old, if they want it. That’s important because once you let a kid leave school and do nothing, it is so much more difficult to get him (or her) motivated in the future. Leisure becomes a habit for some and poverty becomes the norm. And, as Granny would say, 'the dei’l maks work fur idle hans, laddie'.

The government is going to prioritise capital investment, which means creating employment. Remember there was an 11% rise in the construction industry last year in Scotland compared to a 0.2% decrease for the UK and of the 25,000 jobs created in the UK over the last 3 months, 24,000 were in Scotland. Not bad given the size of our population. Businesses are even locating to Scotland from England.

There are infrastructure projects including hospital projects in Glasgow, and the Forth Crossing, a project which in itself will create over 3,000 jobs!! There’s a housing investment programme worth £400 million, supporting more than 15,000 jobs, and building houses which are so desperately needed.

There is a £70 million fund for renewables. OK, many don’t like or want renewables, preferring to rely on gas, oil and coal, but we need to accept that it’s the future and there is interest in it from all around the world. WE need to be in the forefront of attracting the business. Shaking heads and sticking to the 1970s’ technology will only mean that Ireland or Denmark, or England, will pick up the contracts, and engineering and industrial jobs instead of us. You don't have to like it, but like the jobs it creates.

The days when companies were happy to wait for dial up broadband, or indeed work with no internet access at all, were over years ago, but some of our connections are still lamentably slow. So, to encourage companies to Scotland the government will be setting out to get broadband to all. That’s no easy task in a country as big as ours with many isolated communities, but it must, and will, be done, creating jobs by doing it and in the doing of it.

The small business bonus scheme will continue, meaning no rates for small companies. With savings of up to £4,000 a year this is a welcome boost to the private sector.

There is also a policy of no compulsory redundancies and a living wage for all the government’s staff. Lucky them, you might think. But they do matter and them having no confidence in their future is bad for all of us in so many ways. Yes, there will be cuts. There will have to be. We’ve lost billions from the budget, but at least those who don’t want to go, won’t have to. So they can do their jobs without worry, and they can spend their money...

There is, of course, much more, but I was genuinely pleased to see that, when the UK government is doing its best to create unemployment, Edinburgh is working to put people into jobs.

Even if George Osborne doesn’t have a plan B, thank heavens, the Scottish government does. It almost makes you feel as if we ARE all in this together.

(The illustration is, I'm told, British Crown copyrighted and as such acknowledgement must be made to the British Crown for its use. So: Thank you your majesty xx.)


  1. Sounds like a lot of public spending on 'non jobs' tris.
    Plus renewable subsidies are being cut all over Europe as countries realise what a scam and waste of money wind and wave power is. Taking money from poor pensioners and giving it to wealthy landowners and shareholders.
    Spain just cut it's feed in tariffs by 70%

  2. Only problem being, governments don't create jobs, if anything they stifle entrepreneurial endeavour by taxation and regulation. All the SNP are doing is throwing taxes at training schemes with no probable job at the end of the training.
    The only good thing is the no rates for small companies, that's where the real jobs will come from, not capital expenditure (with your money) and not from government training schemes.
    Btw there is no future in renewables, the market is collapsing in the USA and Germany due to cheap Chinese imports taking advantage of subsidies.

  3. Not non jobs Monty. I'm not an economist but I understand that if a bloke has a wage he will spend; when he spends he keeps shops, restaurants etc, organisations in business. They in turn employ and keep other businesses alive.

    In times of deep recession no one else is going to invest. Jobs building bridges and houses are not non-jobs, again they provide things we need and buy materials from local manufacturers.

    I don't know the future of the wind and wave technology, and yes, there has been a downturn in some bankrupt countries' investment, but, it's probably the future.

    Whatever criticisms people have of the Scottish economic model it's doing better than the English one.

    They seem to think that it's like the old days when having a war will create employment.

  4. QM: I'm not an economist but I'll quote from the First minister's speech:

    "Earlier this month he [Prof Nouriel Roubini] said the nations of the world must move away from the Anglo Saxon model of Laissez Faire and voodoo economics and indeed the continental European model of deficit driven states. He said: "The right balance today requires creating jobs partly through additional fiscal stimulus aimed at productive infrastructure investment."

    Scotland heeds these calls from some of the finest economic minds in the world. But our desire to introduce that growth and balance is threatened by the voodoo economics of the London coalition - whose ministers lecture Scotland about its future.

    Let them start by using their own powers wisely before they attack Scotland. A Scotland where sensible policies have employment above the UK average and unemployment below it. Where in the last 3 months Scotland created 24,000 out of the 25,000 aggregate jobs created in these islands.

    We therefore prefer to take advice from a Lagarde, a Stiglitz and a Roubini rather than a Moore, an Alexander or a Mundell."

    As far as small companies is concerned the government has set up a Scottish investment bank, aware as it is that these organisations are stifled by the lack of lending of the big banks, which it seems Osborne is incapable of controlling despite the fact we one most of them. I should have had that in the post, but there is only so much room. I did have in the post the £4,000 a year bonus to small companies.

    Again, I'd point out that we created more jobs in Scotland over the last few months than a country with 10 times our population...England.

    Hors de sujet, I hope you're feeling better.... I know the last while has been bad for you.

  5. PS QM:

    Yes there's a lot of training, but much of it is apprenticeships. And no, we can never guarantee that there will be a job at the end of an apprenticeship. That will depend on how the economy runs over the next few years.

    Training never does absolutely nothing. If it does nothing else, it gives kids something to get up for in the morning and tires them out.

    Without it too many of them (and I work in this field so I know what I'm talking about) lie in bed all day and roam the streets all night.

    So no, it's not perfect. They should be jobs with training, but within the limited budget that Scotland has it is trying to do that.

    The rest is the best we can do, and as I say it's better than nothing.

    Hopefully it will be reasonably constructive training... not like the utter garbage provided by the DWP agencies.

  6. tris..

    "I understand that if a bloke has a wage he will spend; when he spends he keeps shops, restaurants etc, organisations in business"

    This is the madness that Labour used to get us into this mess.
    Where do you think the money comes from to pay for these non job wages ? From the taxes on the businessmen.
    Following your theory everyone will be given a job paid by taxing the private sector. Liebour created a million of these non jobs and they're all taking money out of the economy not putting it in. A non job worker pays for a meal in a restaurant. The restaurant owner gives this money to the government in higher taxes and eventually goes out of business as the non jobs increase.
    As for the renewable non jobs the most recent report said each job building windmills and other useless endeavours removes 3.7 useful jobs that could have been created.
    Renewables are paid for by increasing energy bills and giving the money to landowners and companies via high feed in tariffs. Oh and our 3,600 windmills produced zip for many days during last winters freeze. China can supply solar panels and windmills at a fraction of the cost we can but we'll build the stuff ourselves anyway using non job workers and use it even though it's totally useless.

  7. Ok Monty. I understand what you're saying, although I'm economically illiterate.

    But firstly we NEED the bridge and we NEED the houses. The government has a duty to make the infrastructure is there and that there is affordable housing. Who the hell will invest in a country where the bridges are falling down and the workers are camping out?

    Secondly the government is helping small businesses to offset some of the tax they are paying to the English government by cancelling their rates, so it's not all state sponsored jobs.

    Thirdly it has set up an investment bank, because the commercial banks won't lend to small businesses, and the treasury is about as much use as an underwater hair-dryer at making them participate in the economy. All the banks care about is their bonuses.

    Forthly, I think you are rather overstating the case. The restaurant which may well have to pay taxes to the London government, is still employing people, using and paying for food, often grown locally, employing other people.

    In a stagnant economy with people on the dole, there is no need for businesses. I recently visited a small town on the outskirts of Glasgow. There were tracksuited, dowdy pencil thin, or grossly fat people hanging about on every street corner. There were pubs and pound shops. There was nothing else of interest. It was what the English imagine Scotland to be like.

    It wasn't 50 miles from Edinburgh with its smart hotels and restaurants, bistros and high class shops. But it was on another planet.

    Who is going to employ these people in the run down town? Who is going to start a business there? if we want to get these people off the dole we have to spend government money.

    maybe there is an alternative.but sacking people left right and centre as the English government is doing is hardly working.

    Maybe you have the solution for Eck?

  8. tris...

    Yes it's quite easy. Scrap business rates for small businesses. Fix income tax at 20% for most people and no income tax for people under £16K. Put out roads and bridges work to tender to construction companies who will employ people. Construction companies are closing every day in Scotland through lack of work. Laying off skilled people. Your idea seems to be to spend millions on courses and other nonsense such as the renewable revolution - renewable joke but no one is laughing except the companies and land owners more like. The shedding of jobs from councils is a joke as well. They're back at work on Monday with a consultant job, full pension and a wedge in the bank.
    The banks should have been allowed to fail and the Directors put in prison. The present system of continually bailing them out and allowing them to pocket billions in bonuses is taking the mickey. That will have to be stopped.
    Circulating our taxes by employing people on pointless tasks, giving this money to businesses who give more and more back to the government isn't 'growth'. It's an ever diminishing return on an ever increasing debt outlay.

  9. Nice one Monty.

    1: Scottish government have done that.

    2: We can't touch income tax. That's for the Bullingdon Boys.

    3:That's what will happen. The houses and the bridge will be built by Scottish companies. Eck isn't going to build them himself.

    4: Young people have to be trained before they are any use. Hopefully the apprenticeships that the government announced and the training places will do some good. Hove you ever tried to get the average 16 year old to fill in an application form? or do anything. (Note to education secretary...please can we have some suitable education for the intellectually less able?)

    Of course once upon a time they didn't need to fill in anything, or ever read of write after they left school. They were taken to the mine office or the factory office or the ship yard office or the foundry office, or the mill office by their dad when he went off to work, and they were taken on.

    There was no application form. Recruitment was done on the basis of the "good apple doesn't fall far from the tree".

    One of the dreadful things that Thatcher did was she got rid of all the jobs in the factories, mills, etc. ..what lads still call "men's jobs"; jobs where you got your hands dirty and were tired by the end of the night... but she didn't get rid of the people who did these jobs.

    She wanted them to go into the service industries, which was just about as sensible as letting her do brain surgery, or putting David Cameron down a mine with a pick.

    I wish we had allowed the banks to fail, but of course Brown didn't really know his ass (Danny, this time I really mean arse) from his elbow. He came along at a time when Ken Clarke had been chancellor and left him a reasonably healthy economy (not something the Tories had had all the time they were in power as Thatcher would have had you believe). And his boom was based on credit that never should have been.

    I don't know what would have happened if they had allowed them to fail, while protecting the first £100,000 of anyone's deposits. Certainly it sickens me to see a lad who stole a few packets of cigarettes given an 8 month jail sentence, and a banker who helped cause a £50 billion pound hole in his bank's finances be given a raise and a bonus.

  10. tris..

    Our local shops say they are struggling because of their business rates. Are you sure they've been scrapped ?

    We can't touch income tax but we can divert the hundreds of millions we're about to waste on the 'renewable revolution' and just give it to people in their wage packet. No law against that. It's our budget. At least it will be used usefully rather that thrown into the black hole of renewables.
    Oh and we need to train young people in useful skills. Not on building windmills.

    Eck won't build the houses and bridges himself but instead of just tendering for the work it looks like there's going to be lots of £100K jobs for the usual suspects in enterprise and development projects.

    We've been getting lied to about our kids education if what you say is true about their abilities. Every year the grades get better and whenever someone says they're rubbish tests they get howled down by the politicians.

  11. tris..

    I checked out the business rate details. It's scrapped for rateable values below £10,000. Paid for by a surcharge on rateable value properties above £35K. If you have 2 shops and the total RV is then above £10K it's introduced incrementally.
    You can have a windmill factory any size you want and of course pay zip.

  12. Monty:

    Thanks for doing that. I was just about to go through the FM's speech.

    Answer: Build a windmill and sell bread and chocolate from there!! :)

    Seriously, the reason local shops are going broke is more likely to be that we have allowed Tesco (and to a lesser extent the other supermarkets) take over. A jar of coffee in Tesco at £2,50 and the comparable jar of coffee in the corner shop £5,88.

    One of the things that might bring shops back to the high streets (instead of chain stores, phone shops and pound shops, which is what we seem to have in Dundee) is reducing RVs on town centre shops. In France, right in the centre of towns, petit commercants thrive because of that policy. (Of course the French like their little shops for food. Supermarkets like Casino and Carrefour are OK for bleach and washing up liquid, but not for dinner!)

    I have seen people with good grades in English, who listed their results as "Inglush", because that's how they say it. I have also noted fair grades in French, from people who, when greeted and invited to take a seat in that language, stared vacantly.

    I once 'did' a French higher in my head while I was standing in a bookshop waiting for the rain to go off. Exams are easy.

    Post grad students, at master level, have had to be encouraged to write in paragraphs, and have no concept of punctuation. [Spelling is done for them by the computer (as it is for me)]. Nor have they any idea about the difference between spoken colloquial language and the sort of grammatical structures expected in an essay submitted as part of their masters degree.

    So yes; the results are better and the standards are lower.

    Of course, it's fair to say that being able to speak English or French is not the be all... it may be more important to know your way around an Intel processor.