Kezia Dugdale calls for inclusive campaign to reassure EU nationals

7 July 2016

Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale has called for a high profile advertising campaign to reassure EU nationals that they are welcome in Scotland.

In a letter to the First Minister, Ms Dugdale says that she is ‘disgusted’ by Tory attempts to use EU nationals as ‘bargaining chips’ and calls for the formation of a nationwide advertising campaign along similar lines to ‘One Scotland, Many Cultures’.

The Scottish Labour leader has also written to David Cameron and the two remaining candidates to succeed him, Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom, demanding assurances that EU nationals will be able to stay in the UK.

Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale said:

“The rise of race hate attacks across the UK in the aftermath of the EU referendum has left many of us in shock.

“Our divided country is not helped by the sickening actions of Tory candidates for Prime Minister, who seem to view EU nationals who work, live and love amongst us as bargaining chips in some political game.

“We need to not only reassure EU nationals that they are welcome in Scotland, but make absolutely clear that we will stand up against intolerance and act against hate crime with all the force of the law.

"That’s why we need a nationwide campaign to welcome and reassure EU nationals and people from all backgrounds that they are welcome in Scotland and this is their home.

"Scotland can rise above this hate and speak with one voice that we do not agree with the politics of hate and division.

“I have also asked for assurances from the Prime Minister and the remaining Tory leadership candidates that EU nationals will be able to stay in Scotland. This damage to our reputation as a tolerant and outward looking country should never have been done in the first place."



Expert reports confirms SNP cuts to higher education

6 July 2016

An expert report has confirmed SNP cuts to higher education in Scotland.

The independent experts at Audit Scotland have found: · Funding for universities has been cut by six percent in real terms since 2010/11.

· Capital funding for Universities has been cut by nearly 70%.

· Average Scottish student debt is projected to hit 20,000 before the end of this parliament.

· Overall student debt increased by 14 percent between 2013 and 2015.

Labour said that the fallout from the EU referendum cannot distract the SNP Government from delivering a fairer education system for Scotland.

Scottish Labour Education spokesperson Iain Gray said:

“Education is the single most important economic investment a government can make. Brexit or the possibility of a second independence referendum cannot distract us from that in the coming months and years.

“This expert report lays bare the impact on Higher Education of the SNP’s refusal to protect education budgets. Schools and colleges have suffered, but this report reveals how the budget for universities has also been cut.

“While Alex Salmond was unveiling monuments to his Higher Education policies he was slashing university budgets and piling debt on Scotland’s students.

“In Scotland the poorest students are less likely to go straight to university in the first place, but then much more likely to require expensive loans and rack up potentially crippling levels of debt.

“The SNP promise in 2007 of abolishing student debt has been completely abandoned, and instead student debt in Scotland has rocketed and is predicted to grow even larger before the end of the decade.

“Labour was absolutely clear in the Scottish election that we would protect the education budget in real terms. We stand by that pledge.

“Faced with the choice between using the powers of our Scottish Parliament to invest in education or carrying on with the cuts the SNP must use the powers to stop the cuts.”

Audit Scotland: Higher Education in Scottish Universities Report

6 July 2016

Key Findings

Cuts:

Overall funding for universities has reduced in recent years, and will continue to do so through 2016/17

The SFC allocated £1.1 billion to universities in 2014/15, a reduction of six per cent in real terms, since 2010/11

Across the main funding streams, changes infunding have been more variable between 2010/11 and 2014/15:Capital funding reduced from £83.5 million to £28 million in cash terms, a real-terms reduction of 69 per cent.

The teaching grant increased from £679 million to £702 million in cash terms, a reduction of 3.5 per cent in real terms. This was partly due to the removal of funded places for students from the rest of the UK after the Scottish Government allowed universities to charge tuition fees for these students in 2012/13.

Going forward research funding is projected to reduce from £279 million to £266 million in cash terms, a real-terms reduction of seven per cent, teaching grant funding is projected to reduce from £702 million to £689 million in cash terms, a real-terms reduction of five per cent.

Although a real terms increase in capital funding is due to take place in the coming years.

Being a student:

A Scottish student now typically leaves university with debt of £11,281 and this is projected to increase to around £20,000 by 2019.

Scottish student debt has increased in recent years as financial support has shifted from non-repayable bursaries and grants to loans. Overall student debt levels rose by 14 per cent between 2013 and 2015 and are projected to average around £20,000 by 2019.

It has become more difficult in recent years for Scottish students to gain a place at a Scottish university as applications have increased more than the number of offers made by universities. The offer rate for Scottish and EU applicants has fallen over the past five years while offer rates for most other applicant groups have increased, Almost one in five, 19 per cent, Scottish applicants in 2015 did not receive any offers from a Scottish university.

Scottish students from deprived areas have higher levels of student loan debt than students from less deprived areas.

There is a lack of information on the impact of changes to student support on students from deprived backgrounds and the overall costs of going to University.



Increase in cancelled operations must be a wakeup call that SNP ministers can’t forget about the day job - Sarwar

5 July 2016

Commenting on a rise in operations cancelled because of capacity and non-clinical reasons in our NHS, Scottish Labour Health spokesperson Anas Sarwar said:

“The SNP Government must not allow themselves to be so distracted by the fallout from the EU referendum that they take their eyes off of the day to day running of our NHS. This increase in cancelled operations, because our NHS can’t cope, must act as a wake up call that SNP ministers can’t forget about the day job.

“Under the SNP only a third of our NHS staff believe there are enough of them to do their jobs properly. Patients are losing out because of the SNP Government overworking and undervaluing those who work in our health service.

“For nearly a decade now the SNP have taken a crisis management approach to our NHS. What we need is investment and a plan for the long term, as the representatives of doctors and nurses have been calling for. Their calls cannot go ignored for much longer.”