Wednesday, 4 June 2014

HOW much?

Why are the Scottish Government spending taxpayers' money on a report which will only kick in if Scotland becomes independent? Talk about pre-empting the referendum result! Sounds to Calton more like a bribe to vote YES - if you are on minimum wage - and this from the selfsame government which refused to mandate the living wage for government contracts in the recent procurement bill. At the time they used the EU as their excuse, which is a bit rich from a party committed to an independent Scotland remaining in the EU.

The scourge of the working poor is one which Calton would like to see removed from our society but we need to be careful that hiking the minimum wage does not cost jobs. Trying to mitigate the hike by reducing employer's NI contributions will not always work, particularly for the likes of cleaning employers who typically employ people on part-time contracts where the hours are so low that they do not pay NI.

As for the rest of the report, the only positive measure is the proposed increase in carer's allowance - the rest is just a return to the bad old days of a bloated benefit system where many were better off on benefits than in work and, as usual, it is unclear how the Scottish Government would pay for it all. Calton is just thankful that it is unlikely to be implemented as, even with blatant bribes such as this, the Yes campaign are still failing to make any headway in the polls. They just don't get that canny Scots want to know how much something will cost before committing themselves! And, while we're on the subject, how much did the expert group on welfare's report cost us?

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Sir Ian sees the wood from the trees

With youth unemployment running at nearly 20%, Calton welcomes any initiative to get our young people into work and the Wood Report, published today, seems to have some very positive ideas. It is good to see that the report recognises the importance of vocational training for the businesses which exist in a particular geographical area and recognises that academic studies are not the best way into work for all youngsters. It is now up to the Scottish Government to start implementing the ideas in the report. What concerns Calton is the fact that, if the SNP persist in their aim of bringing thousands more immigrant workers into Scotland, our young people will still be up against it when looking for a job. Businesses may want to employ Scottish youngsters but if their communication skills, plus their motivation, are not up to it, the jobs will go to immigrants who do have the skills employers are looking for. Put more simply, the unrestricted immigration from the EU in recent years has hidden the fact that some of our young people are unemployable and the Scottish Government seems to have been quite happy to allow a lost generation of unemployed to grow up under our noses as long as businesses were not complaining and the wheels of commerce kept turning. It's just not good enough. Parents need to take some responsibility for kids who can't get out of bed and do a decent day's work but if they can't read and write properly, there's something wrong with our education system. Businesses have told the Government what they need - it's now up to the Government to come up with the goods and simply increasing immigration to fill the jobs is not the right answer.