Sunday, 7 October 2012

When Scotland's former Auditor General Robert

... Black asks the question " ... is providing the current range of free public services sustainable", the Scottish National Party administration in Scotland said ...
The Scottish government said it remained committed to the council tax freeze, free prescriptions, free bus travel and its public service reforms.
... neatly sidestepping the question with a predictable sound-bite, but ignoring issues surrounding the big ticket items on societies agenda, items such as ...
Free personal nursing care.
When those schemes were set up in Scotland there was no hint given that the costs of those would be rising as quickly as they are now.

... projections relating to the seemingly minor concessionary travel scheme show costs could reach half a billion pounds by 2020s.
The Auditor asks the question ...
"... were the Members of the Scottish Parliament aware of that when they launched the policy?"
... and provides a frightening answer ...
"I suspect the frank answer is not. So to that extent I think I am on safe ground by saying the affordability of some this has to be questioned, we do need to revisit it. Every pound that goes on bus passes for well off older people is a pound that is not available for other things."

... he continues ...
"MSPs have become too cut off from the way services are delivered in local communities. He argued they should spend less time on passing unnecessary laws, to free up more time for budget scrutiny."
Robert Black believes that ...

"... political and media focus on the independence issue is leaving little space or opportunity to address the great challenges which we are facing. 
There is clear leadership on the independence debate, but on many of the other big issues, it can feel as if the politics of Scotland hasn't fully come to terms with the challenges we are now facing. 
No one party or leader is prepared to take the risk of being the first mover in re-thinking policies, whether it be penal reform (or) reshaping the health service.Consider the growth in police numbers from 6,900 in 1949 to more than 17,000 now, despite the use of technology for policing, and without any politician asking why the higher numbers are necessary. 
He said scrutiny of public services is "episodic and patchy" and mostly conducted at Holyrood, remote from the localities where the services are delivered".

Why would I write about devolved Scotland ?

Its because the conditions that exist in Scottish politics are mirrored in the politics of devolved Wales, I would say every word used by Robert Black is equally applicable to the machinations in Cardiff Bay.

It is time our politicians took time out and considered what it is to be like the little people who rely on the services delivered by government ...

... and to ask the little people very specifically whether propositions are acceptable  and to act in accordance with the wishes of the people.  

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