08/02/2012 Newsnight Scotland


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weight to the �30 million cut depending on where you include the


15 million, the 6 million, the other figures that he mentioned.


But it is a step in the right direction. Colleges which provide


mainly vocational courses have been lobbying hard to get the scale of


the cuts reduced, and they welcomed the news. The funding will be


around �20 million less this year, which may not sound like a huge sum,


but it is significant to colleges. Clearly, we obviously want to


maximise the number of opportunities we provide for young


people and older students as well, and clearly managing those


reductions in funding will still be a challenge, but it is an easy


challenge perhaps that it was hitherto. The National Union of


Students staged a write-in campaign to the Scottish government, which


they say resulted in 80,000 e-mails to MSPs about the importance of


further education to young people at a time when one in a four is


unemployed. We are very happy with the overall result. Of course, we


are concerned because they are still being cut, and we will be


watching very closely over the next two to three years to see how the


Government's reforms go through, making sure that the government


maintains its promises. The overall budget bill, which covers �30


billion worth of government spending, was passed by 70 to 52.


Mr Swinney achieved consensus with the Lib Dems, but not the


Conservatives, Greens and Labour. Earlier, the Finance Secretary came


into our Dundee studio, and I asked him to clarify the position about


the funding of further education colleges. His there now no cut in


spending? There have been reductions in funding for further


education within Scotland, but that is part of the reform programme


that the government is taking forward. Going back a few weeks, I


put in place a college transformation Fund which was


designed to help colleges adapt to that a regional model of governance


that the government is putting forward and the programme of


increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the sector. The


resources we have put in will help that process. Right, but when


Labour say that you were planning a �40 million cut, and as a result of


the measures he announced today, it is a �20 million cut, would you


dispute those figures? It all hinges essentially on how you want


to treat the college transformation but that I have put in of �15


million. The purpose of that fund was to assist the college is in


managing the transition to a new financial climate that we think is


necessary, where the college is to operate much more closely together


and we deploy provision in a way that meets the needs of the student


community and also the needs of employers throughout the country.


So I think the key point to take out of this discussion is the fact


that the government is putting in more resources to the college


sector than we had originally planned, and as a consequence I


would have thought that was a strong enough foundation to enable


the Labour Party to vote for the Budget, which they decided not to


do. But if I were running and FT College, what percentage cut now in


the resources I have to spend can I expect to have next year? --


Further Education College. Education Secretary wrote to


principles just after the turn of the year, and before the resources


that I have allocated today were put into the system, indicating


that no College would receive a reduction in funding of greater


than 8.5% in this financial year. Now, clearly the number will be


lower than that as a consequence of the resources... But you do not


know how much? I have not made at High Commission tonight, but what


is important we have put in additional resources,... -- I have


not made that calculation tonight. Are you talking in cash terms or


real terms? I am talking in cash terms. So it is more like 12%.


There are many aspects of public spending provision which are a


challenge for as given the reduction in public expenditure


which are being undertaken as a consequence of the pressures we


face in the United Kingdom. The key point, Gordon, is that the


government has listened carefully to the views that have been


expressed around the country. We have taken account of those, we


have increased the resources that we have put into the sector. We


have maintained the necessity for us to undertake the college reform


programme, and we will continue to pursue that approach, but clearly


we have put in resources to support the provision of further education


within Scotland, and I think that... And try to get a sense of what this


means. 12% in real terms, maybe a bit less, 10%. Deal at any estimate


of how many young people at a time of very high youth unemployment,


how many extra young people will be able to go to college in the next


financial year as a result of the budget you have announced today


than would have been able to go before the additional money you put


in today? The best way to approach that question is to look at the


guarantee the government has given that every 16-90 will, if they are


unable to secure employment, they will be guaranteed training or


education opportunities within Scotland. -- 16-19 year-olds. That


is an absolute guarantee to those people within Scotland, and it is


an indication of the way in which the government has adapted to the


enormous pressures that we face within the public expenditure


accounts. It is a response to what we are dealing with in the economy


and the labour market, and to make sure that every young person in


Scotland as an opportunity to develop their skills and


capabilities. Why are you reducing your proposed tax on supermarkets


which sell booze? Well, I have had a discussion with the retailers. I


have listened to the arguments that they have put forward, and I set


out at the beginning of the budget process that this would be a


revenue-raising measure that would be designed to raise �30 million in


the first year in which it was applied. In looking at the numbers


in non-domestic rates, looking specifically at the change that is


taking place in England, we do not require to raise �30 million from


the public health supplement. could have done and not raised the


large business poundage. The problem is the one-hour time


limited. This is such a terrifying measure that he will only have to


pay for three years. It is an adjustment, a recognition of the


fact that at a time when the government has a number of


priorities, at a time of public expenditure constraints, we want to


shift the balance of public spending into preventative


expenditure. We have got to raise that money from somewhere, and we


have had the courage to do that by applying a public health


supplements, and by deploying those resources in assisting the


government to manage transition at a time of enormous financial


pressure... You would accept that his new tax has got nothing to do


with stopping people drinking, has it? It is just to get more money.


have been clear that this is about raising revenue, and I have had the


courage to do it. It is ridiculous for Members of Parliament to stand


in debate and say, yes, we are in favour of preventative spending,


but not be prepared to take the decisions to allocate the money or


raise the revenue. We have been prepared to do that at a time of


fiscal constraint, and I think it is important to do that, because if


we get the preventative measures correct within Scotland, we will


start to ensure the sustainability of our public finances and public


services in the years to come. Swinney, that's fine match. I am


joined by Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and Liberal Democrat


leader Willie Reni, and here in Glasgow, Ken Macintosh of Labour.


Why did you vote for this Budget? We argued for more spending on


colleges, on social housing, and an early intervention. That is what we


argued with John Swinney, and the priorities that were set out today


reflected that the additional spending. We felt it was


appropriate to give its support. he had come up with anything, you


were that said, that is fine, we will vote for it? That is silly,


corn. We argued for those things I have set out, the early


intervention, social housing, and a reverse to the cuts at the colleges.


We are good for that, and it was reflected in the additional


spending today. We thought it was reasonable. Ken Macintosh. You were


asking for the same things. Well, we asked for several things. The


thing to remember about this is the key talking about the additional


spending today. This is not about additional spending. This is about


a series of cuts, this is about people losing their jobs, people


losing the services they get from local government. I understand that,


but John Swinney has got a shed load of money from Westminster


because of various factors, and he distributed it largely on the


projects that both you and the Liberal Democrats wanted him to


spend the money on, so why not just say, tough economic times, we


accept you are going in the direction that we wanted? Just


stick colleges alone. If you take a �74 million cut to colleges and in


19 back, that is not addressing the needs of the Scottish economy. That


is not a Budget for jobs and growth, it is a cut with a little bit of


moderation. You are deliberately ignored the point I made. I am


addressing it wholeheartedly. To give you an idea of what this


process was like, John Swinney asked Des two weeks ago for a half-


hour conversation and then gave us the figures an hour before the


Budget today. That is not a process of involving the opposition in


constructing a set of priorities. That is not about winning support


for tackling economic growth for an employment market in Scotland. That


is simply a political device designed to buy off the worst sort


of uproar about the decisions he has made. Ruth Davidson, what is


your problem with this? Particularly given that John


Swinney can reasonably argue that a lot of the constraints young


working and are imposed by the Tory government in London. Why didn't


you vote for it? We wanted to see a budget based on growth and jobs,


and it was lacking in both cases. We wanted to stop putting a


Scotland only tax on big retailers. We also wanted to see support for


small businesses and town-centre as. What would you have cut, then?


identified areas where there was money available. Also, the �142


million reserved as lending to Scottish water, which would have


covered what we asked for. But his idea that you don't like his so-


called Tesco tax to raise money on preventative medicine, argues


saying spending that money on preventative medicine is wrong if


it harms big supermarkets? -- argues saying. Putting a Scotland


only tax on large retailers damages the economy. I get that. But we do


not spend the extra money in the health service? -- but would you


not. You can make extra money to the health service. For example, we


don't believe that rich people should get free prescriptions.


that point, all these things are about political decisions. You are


validating the political decisions of that John Swinney has made,


saying, for example, cutting money to further educational colleges is


worth doing rather than stopping better-off people getting free


prescriptions? If we had a majority in parliament, at which we don't,


we would do things differently. But we argued strongly for a reversing


of the cuts, a more social housing. And we got it. We thought it was


reasonable to recognise that change happened. We wanted to use the


funds locked up in Scottish water and put that into capital spending,


on science, the digital economy, making sure early intervention got


a bigger boost, and energy savings for homes. I offered to help the


SNP, but they refused. Nevertheless, the mood in the right direction.


What would you have cut, Ken Macintosh? The Budget itself didn't


deliver on the SNP's own objectives. It is not a budget for jobs and


growth. It is not a radical attempt to galvanise the Scottish economy.


If you look at the steps the SNP took, for example the Tesco tax and


enterprise zones, neither of those have been assessed for their impact


on jobs. That there is not the mark of a government that wants to


tackle joblessness in Scotland. you are against third supermarket


tax? In principle. In the world of abstract theory, you think it is a


great idea? Exactly the opposite. We would be willing, and still are


at this moment, to work with the SNP, to produce a Budget that would


work for Scotland. If they wouldn't do in assessment and prove its


impact on business... Would you, Willie Rennie? We wouldn't have


done that if we were in charge ourselves. Nevertheless, we


supported the budget. I am not clear still what you want to cut?


There are two things wrong with its budget... You have said all that!


We would ask the SNP to intervene far more robustly in the economy.


Why not use procurement, for example? We have got a multi-


billion pound contract... This may be fantastic, but it doesn't answer


the question. If you are saying John Swinney should not have cut


�20 million from the further education budget, you might have


made the money in the future, but what would you have cut? Gordon, I


am sorry! If you bring in opposition parties, and ask them to


help you shape your priorities, you can expect our support. I am asking


what you would have cut! If the SNP can demonstrate that what they are


doing one make a difference, tackle employment in Scotland,... What


would you take -- or would it take for you to support this? I want to


see a budget that would address joblessness and youth unemployment.


You had John Swinney there saying they would be a guarantee of


vocational, further education or training for every young person in


Scotland. If that is true, how can you say they are not doing anything


for young people? Youth unemployment is at 100,000 across


Scotland at the moment. What we have seen today is a budget for


next year, when John Swinney has �250 million more. He has got a


decrease in real terms, but he has slashed college budgets by more


than 8%. He will put a Tesco tax on the retail centre. It affect the


number of people who go to college. Could you answer the question?! How


many extra people could go to college? How many fewer people do


you think will be able to go to college as a result of this?


have got to �20 million taken out. 1,000 college staff have gone. The


colleges are asking us what is going on. If I can finish my


original point, Gordon. We added time, I am afraid. -- we are out of


time. Now a quick look at tomorrow's


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