Politics

Letters: SNP’s unfair subsidy heightens the need to replace council tax

MY wife and I, both pensioners, live in a council tax band E house. We receive no other government subsidies other than winter fuel payments.

Many of the properties in the surrounding area are in bands A to D and will receive the £150 subsidy announced on Thursday (“Most Scottish households to get £150 off council tax bills in April”, The Herald, February 11). Many of those properties have two or more residents in employment with a subsequently greater income than we currently experience.

We receive no additional council services by being in a band E property – all residential properties receive similar services.

There are no valid or logical reasons why we should be subsiding residents in the lower band properties. Indeed there are no logical reasons why council tax should be based on the value of our residential properties. Like many others, our private property asset has been paid for after years of hard work and payment of taxes.

This is a biased and unfair subsidy and should apply to all or not at all.

We need a fairer and more logical method of local taxation

Frank Nuttall, Hamilton.


HOW HAS A RIGHT BECOME A BENEFIT?

WHEN faced with the question “How did that happen?” relating to some ridiculous change in circumstances my response tends to be “you must remember that statistically speaking half the electorate is of below-average intelligence”; it explains a lot. As many luminaries have previously observed, because of this fact and because many at the other end of the spectrum are smart and callous enough to vote out of self-interest, it’s the only reason they allow us to vote in the first place.

How else can you explain the blind acceptance that our state pension rather than being a right that we have paid for is now considered by some to be an optional “benefit”? Why else would the UK as a whole accept the explanation that all the money that was taken from our wages ostensibly to be squirrelled away for our retirement was rather treated as current revenue and was spent? If a private pension company used that Ponzi method the directors would now be in jail. Why else would we accept that the UK state pension as a percentage of the average national wage is the worst in Europe? Why else would we consider it likely that in the event of Scotland ever leaving the Union that rUK could legally dodge its obligation to Scots who had contributed to the UK pension scheme for decades? It would be a simple enough task for Westminster to calculate all those historical contributions to add compound interest and simply give us our money back.

The same IQ phenomenon also explains why we have so many Union-supporting MSPs who have never been able to win a spot in a first past the post election seemingly being paid to do next to nothing constructive at Holyrood other than carp and make infantile noises in the chamber while the UK economy is drowning in a sea of post-Brexit effluvia. What could I possibly say about Boris Johnson that isn’t an insult; the biggest insult is actually to the country that he is our Prime Minister?

To those who are apprehensive about future pension entitlements I can offer some assistance: I had a limited collection of rare magic beans for sale which I am reluctantly prepared to sell to fund the rewilding of my vast country estate with home-grown pure-bred haggis; buy now before rampant inflation and the impending devaluation of sterling pushes up the price. I have a short-term discounted price for those heroes who wish to remain part of the Union.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.


NO LEGAL OBLIGATION

P DAVIDSON (Letters, February 11) writes: “If, therefore, you have built up an entitlement to a UK pension through National Insurance, there is a legal obligation for that pension to be paid…”

In fact, the definitive Fraser of Allander (FAI) report published in The Herald (“Think-tank’s ‘hammer blow’ to SNP pension plan under indy”, February 5) makes it crystal clear that this is not the case. Moreover, our own knowledge confirms this. Otherwise there would be no Waspi issue – it would have been unlawful for the DWP to deprive women of their former entitlement to the pensions at the age of 60.

Your correspondent and others have to accept that “the state pension is simply a benefit that UK Government could reduce, or even, in principle, eliminate”. As the FAI tells us.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.


WHITE PAPER NEEDS UPDATED

RICHARD Allison (Letters, February 11) is too harsh in describing the Scottish Government’s White Paper, Scotland’s Future, as a work of fiction. Mr Allison correctly informs us the White Paper clearly states that following independence the state pension in respect of Scots will be paid by the post-independence Scottish Government. It is therefore unfortunate that some supporters of independence have given the impression that pensions will be paid by the UK Government following independence.

The White Paper made it clear that the intention of the Scottish Government would be to continue to pay the state pension and possibly increase the pension above that which will be paid by the rUK Government. There is a risk that the proposed level of pension will not be met since the legally binding contract referred to by P Davidson is itself a fiction.

Clearly the White Paper needs to be updated, the sooner the better. At least we will have a clear statement of intention backed up by a White Paper, rather than a slogan written on the side of a bus.

Sandy Gemmill, Edinburgh.


ONLY TORIES THREATEN PENSION

IN an independent Scotland the only threat to the payment of state pensions that fully honour accrued UK National Insurance contributions would be a Scottish Conservative Party in government.

It was a Conservative and Unionist government at Westminster that suddenly moved the goalposts on the state pension age and betrayed the Waspi women and it was also a Conservative and Unionist government at Westminster that ended the triple lock on state pensions despite a clear manifesto commitment not to do so.

While they may have differing views in other policy areas, I personally don’t doubt that an SNP, Scottish Labour, Scottish Green or even a Scottish Liberal Democrat independent government at Holyrood could be trusted not only to guarantee an ongoing commitment to pay Scottish pensions at least at rUK levels but over time to strive to significantly raise those pensions above the lowest levels in Europe.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.


WHAT PENSIONS CONTRACT MEANS

JAMES Martin (Letters, February 10) is mistaken in his assumption that, because pensions are currently paid out of present taxation, this creates a de facto “pensions hole”, post-independence. Just as Scotland’s oil revenue was used by the UK Government to reduce the UK budget deficit rather than say, setting up a sovereign wealth fund, so is some of the supposedly “ring-fenced” National Insurance (NI) fund used in this way. Therefore, it was the UK Government’s decision to spend our NI contributions in other areas, rather than investing the funds for future payments and pay pensions from current tax revenues.

Our contract with the state does not dictate how or from where our pensions are paid; that is the UK state’s decision. The contract states only that they will be paid no matter where the recipient resides.

John McCallum, Glasgow.


WORKPLACE PARKING PLAN WILL MISFIRE

AT Thursday’s First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon simply brushed off questions on the workplace parking levy, stating that it was a local authority issue (“Ross pledges no Tory council will introduce the levy for workplace parking”, The Herald, February 11). It is surely another badly thought-out Scottish Government policy or a sop to the Greens.

Have they given any thought to how it might affect employers and employees? I have done business with a number of construction companies based in out-of-town industrial estates, for example near Uddingston, Blantyre and Stirling. These companies cannot operate without cars and vans as they work all over Scotland and chose to site themselves for easy access to motorways (also keeping traffic out of towns and cities). There is no reasonable public transport and staff are drawn from all over west and central Scotland. Why are they to be penalised?

There is a similar argument for the large Eurocentral complex just off the M8. However, as usual Ms Sturgeon cares not a jot.

Duncan Sooman, Milngavie.


A SCHOONER OUT OF AGNEW’S

YOUR photograph of Tom Glen, his wife Vi and a crew of schoolchildren aboard the schooner Raf (“Sailing away on the Raf”, The Herald, February 10) rekindled many happy memories of a season I spent as tutor/crew with the Adventure Sailing Trust back in the 1970s. The “anonymous businessman” who helped fund the purchase of Raf was Rikki Agnew of Agnew’s off-licences. However, three years later Agnew’s Stores ran into financial difficulties and Rikki Agnew asked for his money back. Tom Glen took out a bank loan to repay him.

Tom was generous with both his money and his time and will be greatly missed by all who knew him. I attended his funeral at Achnabreac cemetery in Campbeltown last month.

Frank McCallum, Westerton.


ALL GREEK TO ME

R RUSSELL Smith (Letters, February 11) is not alone in questioning why a large number of local delivery drivers from a particular national courier firm seem to be incapable of pressing buzzers and uttering that well-known cry, “Delivery!”

Although Mr Smith declines to name the particular delivery firm most culpable, it does not take the sleuthing powers of Monsieur Poirot for me to take an educated guess at whom he is referring to.

Readers may be interested to know that this particular Messenger of the Gods is also the God of Doorways. Enough said.

A Miller, Largs.


PANTS ON FIRE

DURING the past week it has been very interesting to read the various suggestions, put forward by readers and your writers , as to a possible way round the archaic rule that does not allow an MP to accuse an Honourable Member that he or she has told a “fib”. In particular I refer to the confrontation between the Speaker and the SNP Westminster leader, and which led to the latter’s dismissal from the floor of the House. Many of the suggestions have been highly amusing, but I would suggest that a solution already exists.

Many years ago, Winston Churchill was faced with the same quandary, and as recorded in Hansard of the day, accused the member of an “etymological inexactitude”. Something of a mouthful, but it served the purpose.

Mike Dooley, Ayr.

Read more: The independence White Paper has now been shown to be a work of fiction

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