By a Newsnet reporter

Speaking on the BBC's Sunday Politics show, Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney has said that the Scottish government will "vociferously oppose" plans by the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to abolish national pay rates for civil servants.  According to reports, the Chancellor will use his budget speech on Wednesday to announce plans for lower pay for public sector workers in "poorer areas".

It is thought that civil servants in Scotland, Northern England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be most affected by the measure.  The Scottish government has given a commitment that it will have no truck with the plan to lower wages for staff working for departments under the control of the Scottish Parliament, however staff working at the Scottish offices of UK departments such as the Dept of Work and Pensions and HM Revenue and Customs will see their wages frozen.

Staff earning more than £20,000 annually have already had their wages frozen due to Westminster austerity measures.  The new pay freeze is expected to affect all staff, including those on the lowest pay grades.

The Coalition government claims that the measure is necessary because public sector pay is higher than equivalent work in the private sector in poorer parts of the UK.  The Conservative led Coalition believes that this is discouraging recruitment and investment in the private sector.  The government proposes to freeze public sector salaries in "poorer areas" until private sector pay catches up.

Critics have claimed that the plan will only increase the disparity between rich and poor in the UK, already one of the most unequal countries in Europe, and further disunite a United Kingdom where Scotland already plans to hold a referendum on independence.  The result of the pay freeze will see civil servants in London and the south east of England enjoy the highest rates of renumeration, and may encourage staff to seek relocation to these privileged areas.  

Mr Swinney said that he had already made his "complete opposition" clear to the Treasury, saying that the pay freeze risked having a "potentially disastrous impact" on employment and remuneration, as well as on public expenditure in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Mr Swinney said: "What the chancellor's proposal is rumoured to be is a reduction in pay for people in areas outwith the south of England, and what one might consider to be areas of congestion in the jobs market.

"That will be a disastrous approach if it's taken by the chancellor because it will undermine economic confidence in areas far removed from the south east of England and it will do absolutely nothing to solve the regional inequities that exist within the United Kingdom.

"My counterparts in Wales and Northern Ireland are as vociferously opposed to this as I am."

He added:  "The Scottish government will go absolutely nowhere near this proposal for the areas of pay policy that are under our control."

The governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have united in their opposition to the Coalition pay plans.  Northern Ireland Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said:  

"This proposal addresses a problem that doesn't even exist.  There is no evidence that national agreed public-sector wages create problems for the private sector in recruiting workers.

"Where there are labour shortages it is very often in an area where the private sector is not competing with the public sector."

He added:  "This policy is another excuse to grab cash from devolved administrations and from poorer regions of the UK in an attempt to balance the Treasury books."

Welsh first minister, Carwyn Jones, said that the UK government ought to be trying to close the gap between the richer and poorer areas of the UK instead of making it worse.

Mr Jones said:  "People work hard. Nurses work hard, police officers work hard, teachers work hard.  Why should they be penalised because of where they live?  Surely we should be looking at a situation where we look to close the gap in income between different parts of the UK rather than make it worse, which is exactly what this will do."

Comments  

 
# Hing em high 2012-03-19 00:18
So much for we are all stonger togther, so much for UK is a fairer place being togther.

In my morality if you do the same job and work the same hours as another man or woman then you should get paid the same!
 
 
# Vincent McDee 2012-03-19 01:03
This is not exactly another benefit from the union, but it's what happens when you vote tories to power, with or without lap-dog.

Is not just they do not get Scotland's ways, is more their colective subsconcious speaking.

They may be officially in support of Dependence, but when the alternative (if Independence happens "by mistake" like) is 58 less opposition seats in Westmonster...and not having to rely on the dog's votes to steamroll...

I don't mean Paul Kavanagh's duggy, that's a nice chap.
 
 
# CapnAndy 2012-03-19 05:33
It once again shows how removed Wastemonster is from reality.
Why is the private sector having difficulty attracting workers?
Because the rates of pay are so bad they do not provide a living wage. Osbourne should try working as a carer in the private sector and see how long he survives on that wage.
 
 
# CapnAndy 2012-03-19 06:09
Mind you. I suppose the BBC counts as public sector. Now, there's a thought.
 
 
# Fungus 2012-03-19 06:40
MPs and Lordies are public sector workers so I dare say they will be taking a large pay cut to show solidarity and do their bit to get the bills down.
And in other news pigs were seen to fly over the trough at Westminster.
 
 
# Holebender 2012-03-19 07:04
The problem with that line of reasoning is they will claim they work in London so they will be entitled to the top rate.
 
 
# admiral 2012-03-19 08:12
Quoting Holebender:
The problem with that line of reasoning is they will claim they work in London so they will be entitled to the top rate.


Bring in telecommuting and electronic voting. Then tell them they have to spend 75% of the working week in their constituencies, with one day a week at Westminster. Most of them only spend their time there drinking cheap booze, anyway.
 
 
# I Say Yes 2012-03-19 09:07
If they are serious about saving money then all the civil servants, government jobs etc. should all move outwith SE England.
 
 
# edinburgh quine 2012-03-19 06:53
Surely if public sector workers are paid more it encourages the private sector to do better by their staff, thus raising living standards for more people in the area?

The tories like competition, so let the private sector compete. They understand that, dont they?
 
 
# RJBH 2012-03-19 07:12
Its excellent news... anything that devides us is good for us..and strengthens the hand of the SNP...Maybe SNP should field candidates in Northern England... Its possible we can push our borders southwards.
 
 
# wee e 2012-03-19 10:35
Quoting RJBH:
Its excellent news... anything that devides us is good for us..and strengthens the hand of the SNP...Maybe SNP should field candidates in Northern England... Its possible we can push our borders southwards.


My goodness, every line reads like a unionist's parody of a nationalist. Oh - I get it - it IS a parody! Thanks for the laugh!
 
 
# RJBH 2012-03-19 07:21
Scotland already contributes to .."London Weighted Allowances"...but dont let that stop us subsidising London even more... but yes anything that causes friction between us is good... we only need put up with it for another 2 years.
 
 
# wee e 2012-03-19 10:39
Quoting RJBH:
Scotland already contributes to ..".. but yes anything that causes friction between us is good...


I guess I just don't get satire.
 
 
# Big Eye 2012-03-19 07:43
This is a crazy idea. Firstly workers in the south east and London have their high salaries secured at current levels and given further motivation to seek even higher salaries to match the private sector.The London weighting allowance is also secured.

Elsewhere across the rest of the UK wages are effectively reduced.

Then with our reduced wages we can all pay to subsidise Housing Benefit in London which can reach figures like fifty thousand pounds a year, no doubt caused by an overheating economy largely caused by the high wages in this part of the country and completely ridiculous and inflated property prices that have been caused by Government policies such as this one.

If this goes ahead it should be a massive boost for Independence and this budget looks as if it will highlight how Westminsterprio rities are alien to Scotland's
 
 
# snowthistle 2012-03-19 09:15
It will also fuel inflation in the south east resulting in a rise in interest rates which will kill off investment in other areas. Exactly what happened during Thatcher's time when government investment was highly skewed toward the south east.
What is it with tories that they have to concentrate on one tiny corner of the country? It can't provide much in the way of quality of life for the people of the SE.
 
 
# edinburgh quine 2012-03-19 11:50
They get nosebleeds if they travel away from their habitats. And that's where the bulk if them come from after all, so they should care for it. Parodying Alex words; no one cares more for the south east of england than those who live there

And they dont care about inflation as the rich cats get richer irrespective
 
 
# scottish_skier 2012-03-19 08:04
I have read various rumours at times that Gideon thinks Scottish independence could be a good idea for the Tories/England. It was him who advised Dave to take a firmer line on the matter, leading to the BBC interview that saw SNP membership soar. I can't help but increasingly feel these rumours are true.
 
 
# Marga B 2012-03-19 10:17
That was what was implied by an advisor on the "political advisers" circuit over here in Catalonia, with what proof I do not know.
 
 
# UpSpake 2012-03-19 08:14
Sadly, Osborne and the rest of his cabal will take little notice of Swinney and his associates. They are utterly peripheral to Osborne's ideology and irrelevent. We will find out just how, Wednesday !.
 
 
# hiorta 2012-03-19 08:27
It's all being exposed now. All the yap about Union and 'togetherness'

They spent all the UK money on weapons of MD and a long succession of wars in support of 'democracy' which brutally denied democracy to others.

Now it seems that the very roads are to be mortgaged.
Toryism does not work - has never worked apart from short term fixes to get them off watch before the next financial bombshell.
All good japes from their school days, but bloody useless for running a modern country, with their sacred cows of pomp and circumstance getting first place at the Westminster trough.
 
 
# border reiver 2012-03-19 08:40
using the supposed disparity between the Using the public and private sector wage gap is just a smokescreen for cuts and union bashing, (two for the price of one) with so many unemployed, employers have their pick of some excellent workers. If ever anyone wanted proof that the Conservatives would put the South of England before Scotland, this it it at its worst
 
 
# admiral 2012-03-19 09:04
O/T but the Tories are now planning to sell England's road network to foreign sovereign wealth funds (sovereign wealth funds, I hear you say, isn't that one of those things the SNP gets laughed at by the AIB for suggesting for Scotland?).

guardian.co.uk/.../...

Anyway, strange contrast with their attitude to Scotland's shipbuilding industry after independence.

Happy to sell off their hospitals, schools, water, electricity and roads to Johnny Foreigner for a fast buck, but not happy to co-operate with a neighbour to secure the joint defence of these islands. Hmm...
 
 
# nchanter 2012-03-19 10:07
Quoting admiral:
O/T but the Tories are now planning to sell England's road network to foreign sovereign wealth funds (sovereign wealth funds, I hear you say, isn't that one of those things the SNP gets laughed at by the AIB for suggesting for Scotland?).

guardian.co.uk/.../...

Anyway, strange contrast with their attitude to Scotland's shipbuilding industry after independence.

Happy to sell off their hospitals, schools, water, electricity and roads to Johnny Foreigner for a fast buck, but not happy to co-operate with a neighbour to secure the joint defence of these islands. Hmm...

think you hit the nail on the head when you used the term fast buck. It is my view that we are now or soon to be another unofficial state of the USA, there can't be much left to sell off our troops are on hire to the US next the land.
 
 
# Marga B 2012-03-19 10:23
"The bankers NM Rothschild suggested in a report in 2010 that privatising the road network could raise £100bn".

Not surprisingly, the comments are white-hot. How can newspapers go on reporting this kind of information straight off the Tory press release? Don't the reporters need a darkened room, or do they put something in their tea?
 
 
# J Wil 2012-03-19 09:17
The Tories are intent on making everyone worse off to make a point about differences beween public and private wage levels.

We all know that the private sector have no scruples about driving wages and employment conditions down to the lowest level possible, so why should they be taken as an example of how things should be?

The Tories are using the present economic conditions as a cover to do what they would do even in the best of times and I am sure there will be more to come. It will be Thatcher eat your heart out!
 
 
# edinburgh quine 2012-03-19 09:28
It looks like our road tax will be going to private companies to whom the tories are selling off their roads. guardian.co.uk/.../...

I thought thatcher was pretty appalling but her and her cronies are as nothing compared to this lot.

Schools, hospitals, water, roads; what's next?
 
 
# Marga B 2012-03-19 10:27
It's the perfect circular argument "some "infrastructures " (sic) like water are already in private hands, why not roads?"

Machaevelli would be proud.

"How God Made the English - A Tolerant People?" the programme said - I like the question mark!
 
 
# J Wil 2012-03-19 10:33
The BBC seem to be getting much bolder in what they are prepared to get away with. Not sure if this series of programmes will do very much for, "The English", or for, "The BBC".
 
 
# RaboRuglen 2012-03-19 09:34
Hi there,

Since every attempt to move public service jobs and their personnel out of London to the "regions" is met with the fiercest of opposition from those potentially affected, it is clear that generally those who live and work there want to be there. This is a market potential not to be ignored.

It is not the "regions" where, according to them, nobody seems to want to live and work, but in overcrowded London that wages should be cut. After all, if you cut a Londoner's wage, he is unlikely to want to move to a "region" when there are many alternative jobs on his own doorstep. But if you cut a Scotsman's wage, he is likely to be forced to move south, aggravating the current problem.

Simples.

Regards,
 
 
# Marga B 2012-03-19 10:33
Or conversely you can do it this way - even though there's not enough jobs to go round, subsidise the Scots to stay where they are to stop the inward pressure on London and avoid depopulating the country. That would have saved much of English farm land from becoming the unoccupied desert it is today.

Well as you might imagine there's a flaw in this argument, and it's called productivity, but don't tell the Spanish, because that's what they've been doing in Andalusia for 35 years. It's one of the reasons that Spain is bankrupt.

Oh what a tangled web we weave!
 
 
# Blanco 2012-03-19 12:16
Rab, I think you have hit the nail on the head.

I would go further and move the entire UK government to somewhere like Birmingham or Hull, but your idea is much simpler to implement.

In addition, the High Speed Rail link should have the Manchester-Birmingham link done first, before they even think of building the line through the Tory Chiltern shires... otherwise it is just another mechanism for London to suck the lifeblood out of the rest of the country.
 
 
# Islegard 2012-03-19 09:35
A redistribution of wealth based on social factors. The well off, affluent areas get more pay and the poorer areas get less. What a great tory idea.
 
 
# spagan 2012-03-19 09:41
It is an idea backed up by the Liberals as well if it sees the light of day!
Its actually probably backed by significant numbers of Labour MPs as well who believe the SE of England is hard done by.
They get London Weighting already - Why? The expensive fuel is up here and we have to spend more on energy heating houses etc.
We can and we will - Do better!!
 
 
# Skip_NC 2012-03-19 11:47
Quoting spagan:
They get London Weighting already - Why? The expensive fuel is up here and we have to spend more on energy heating houses etc.


Excellent question. When I worked in London as a civil servant the only costs that I felt were above average were housing costs. On what was still a quite low salary, I was actually able to save several times more than I have managed anywhere else.

My conclusion: London Weighting is unnecessary and should be abolished before freezing the wages of workers in other parts of the British Isles.
 
 
# Inverlochy 1645 2012-03-19 10:40
So much for "we're all in it together"!!!! But we all know that was just a chat up line to get into office!! They really aren't doing themselves any favours in pointing out the positives for keeping the union. If this is the sort of nonsensical guff they are coming out with then long may it continue. It will only show them up for exactly what they are and the yes vote all the easier to achieve!!
 
 
# alexb 2012-03-19 10:41
Hard to believe that there are still people in Scotland who will vote for the Con/Lib/Lab parties, when this is one more example of their twisted thinking. Roll on independence.
 
 
# Vincent McDee 2012-03-19 10:55
That's the idea spagan.

Since the war the Uk has had but a succession of alternate labour/tory governments practising Dictatorial Parlamentary Democracy, going pendular from the worst extremes of the left to the even worse extremes of the right. With Blair/Brown we even had both at the same time.

Is a matter of self-presevation.

Any government elected in Scotland after Independence will do better than them for a very simple reason, it would not be them.

One of these days the English will see clear and will get rid of the british too.

Thankfully we already know better.

PS: Just found www.politicshome.com/.../25518

The national minimum wage is to rise 11p this October, from £6.08 to £6.19.

The rate of the rise was recommended following a consultation from the Low Pay Commission. However, ministers have opted to freeze the minimum wage for youngsters aged 16-20.

It would be hilarious if it wasn't such a serious matter.
 
 
# edinburgh quine 2012-03-19 11:56
I was at a (SNP) meeting recently and they were talking about, not the minimum wage, but a living wage which is in excess of £7 and they intend to ensure that every council that is controlled by the SNP will ensure that ALL employees have at least a living wage. That's progressive politics
 
 
# Dundonian West 2012-03-19 12:13
"They intend to ensure that every council that is controlled by the SNP will ensure that ALL employees have at least a living wage. That's progressive politics"
Exactly.
 
 
# Blanco 2012-03-19 12:20
It is welcome news, but £7/hr was a living wage maybe ten to fifteen years ago. As the pound continues to decrease in value over the next few years, a proper living wage will probably top £10/hr.
 
 
# edinburgh quine 2012-03-19 12:43
Yes, but just think what we could do with Independence. At least it's a load better than these greedy craters doon sooth
 
 
# bringiton 2012-03-19 11:16
O/T but speaking of "disastrous" plans.
bbc.co.uk/.../...
It seems that the UK is following the Greek austerity model and selling off anything which is publicly owned in order to reduce debt.
Whatever next ?
 
 
# Dundonian West 2012-03-19 11:39
Oil perhaps?
 
 
# edinburgh quine 2012-03-19 12:01
Y'know, the recession has been manna from heaven for the conlibs or libcons; whatever.

It's given them the excuse to fly to the far right of the political spectrum. The lablot are struggling to catch up with them but will likely succeed.

Where does that leave english people who dont want this kind of nonsense?
 
 
# daveniz 2012-03-19 12:43
Scottish government wants junk food adverts banned before 9pm and yet Jackie baillie dismisses it and repeats her lies about blanket shortages etc. and adds to it with elderly patients now!

bbc.co.uk/.../...
 
 
# Jimbo 2012-03-19 14:12
How in God's name does Baillie conflate asking for co-operation between the UK and Scottish governments as "picking a fight" with Westminster?

As for the blanket shortages etc, some-one in the Scottish government really needs to take her to task over this. She can't be allowed to perpetuate this lie with impunity.
 
 
# edinburgh quine 2012-03-19 12:55
Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, I went in the Grudjin website and found this:

guardian.co.uk/.../...
 
 
# Dundonian West 2012-03-19 13:08
Quoting edinburgh quine:
Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, I went in the Grudjin website and found this:

guardian.co.uk/.../...


Michael Moore oor S of S for Scotland must be fair chuffed at his fellow LibDem Cabinet colleague.
Teenagers' wage frozen.Aye,that's the way to dae it Michael and Vince.
Pick on the 2nd most vulnerable in society.
1st are those who are already ON the streets.
Shame on LIBERALS---you used to stand for liberalism,and all that was good and decent.
That's what the blinkin word means.
 
 
# creag an tuirc 2012-03-19 13:36
Would that be the 16 and 17 year olds they don't want to vote?
 
 
# Dundonian West 2012-03-19 13:41
Quoting creag an tuirc:
Would that be the 16 and 17 year olds they don't want to vote?

YES!
It's on their wish list,if not it's in their manifesto-----but not the noo.
 
 
# Marga B 2012-03-19 14:32
OT, but on the privatising of roads, very interesting comments in the blog of unaligned constitutional expert Alan Trench (also online recordings of conference on referendum in London last week):

Contains this fascinating paragraph:

"The announcement to be made today is only for feasibility studies to be carried out, and actual privatisation may never happen. But the way it has been publicised suggests that no-one has aired these issues before the announcement was planned, which itself may suggest something about the role of spin and side-lining of normal policy-making under the Coalition at Westminster. Moreover, it shows a failure to think carefully about what ‘the nation’ is (England or UK?) at a time when that issue has a particular sensitivity. It’s almost as though Number 10 has bought into SNP rhetoric without noticing."

.../atrench
 
 
# Ericmac 2012-03-19 17:11
Just oh so slightly O/T please forgive me... But this is too good and should be seen by all

muzzerino.com/.../...
 
 
# Davy 2012-03-19 14:36
Well I have a few unionist friends who work in the public sector, I wonder how they will feel about independence now if this con-dem policy is true.
If their ever was a reason to rid ourselves of Westminster surely this shows it. What a bunch of selfserving numptys.
 
 
# Sleekit 2012-03-19 15:20
OT

Islanders threaten rocky road for Alex Salmond's independence plans

guardian.co.uk/.../...

The fiercely proud Orkney and Shetland islands have their own ideas about Scottish independence and who owns its oil, say their Lib Dem MSPs
 
 
# edinburgh quine 2012-03-19 16:24
They would say that, wouldn't they?
 
 
# scottish_skier 2012-03-19 16:30
I understand that the Lordship of the Isles (Western isles) only ended in 1493 when John Macdonald II forfeited his estates and titles to James IV of Scotland. Thus, unlike Orkney and Shetland - which were ruled by Norway before joining Scotland, the LotI was to an extent 'independent' and did not join Scotland until 20 years later. I wonder why there is not talk therefore of the Western Isles staying in the Union if they don't vote yes in majority? Surely that's a better case?

What if some of the Shetland Isles say yes and others no? If Scotland is divisible, then individual areas are too surely?

What abour Berwick? And what about the people of Northumbria? They have very close historical links with the borders and maybe wish to join Scotland? Maybe they should get a say?

In the past, the SNP have always supported Shetland having more autonomy. They had an agreement with the Shetland Movement when it was active to not stand against them in elections. I'm not sure why that would have changed.

I think Tavish should let the islanders speak for themselves about their level of autonomy etc, rather than putting words in their mouths at the behest of his Tory masters.
 
 
# Holebender 2012-03-19 17:16
Quoting scottish_skier:
I wonder why there is not talk therefore of the Western Isles staying in the Union if they don't vote yes in majority?



You don't really need to ask do you? Mind you, these short sighted moron unionists obviously haven't figured out how much potential mineral wealth there is to the west of the Hebrides!
 
 
# creag an tuirc 2012-03-19 17:32
Yes I watched Tavish spout his drivel yesterday (he included the Western Isles), he had a twinkle in his eye when the interviewer mentioned the implications on oil and gas.

It seems he hasn't read the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Anyway I just see this as verification that oil and gas are the only reasons Westminster wants us in remain within the UK.

Tavish would rather an independant Scotland had no oil or gas. Now what was it Joan McAlpline called the unionist opposition in Scotland again? :-)
 
 
# Keep UTG 2012-03-19 17:52
Were Orkney and Shetland not classed as Scottish when the 1707 treaty was signed,or did they sign their own bit of paper?
 
 
# Keep UTG 2012-03-19 18:04
 
 
# bringiton 2012-03-19 19:53
One of the questions Tavish Scott's constituents should be asking him is why is it only now that he is so concerned about their welfare and why hasn't he been pressing for more devolved powers from Westminster if he has such a strong case ?
 
 
# bringiton 2012-03-19 17:39
As I understand it,the Northern Isles are part of Scotland and would be recognised as such in international law.
If Scotland votes to dissolve the UK,then the only alternatives to being Scottish would be English or Norwegian,both of which would cause logistical difficulties for the islanders.
As some people have posted,this is just more DUF being generated by the anti independence brigade.
A no vote to independence would not mean an automatic yes vote to being part of England or France or whatever,that would have to be decided by a future plebicite and negotiations between the Scottish government and whoever the islanders may decide they wish to belong to.
The objective of this and the other matters relating to the Crown Estates Commisssion may be a concerted effort by Westminster to try and deny the Scottish Government access to offshore assets (or at least making that threat).
 
 
# creag an tuirc 2012-03-19 18:27
Quoting bringiton:
The objective of this and the other matters relating to the Crown Estates Commisssion may be a concerted effort by Westminster to try and deny the Scottish Government access to offshore assets (or at least making that threat).


Is this not proof that Westminster is only interested in Scotland's offshore resources and we are not all in this together afterall?
 

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