Aid for EU people
The Scottish Government is offering to pay the Secure Status fee of 20,000 EU citizens who work in the Scottish public sector, at a cost of £1.3 million. But there are 180,000 EU nationals living in Scotland, 145,000 of them of working age, so why not allocate another £7m for the other 125,000 not in the public sector and mostly on low wages? This would be the equivto alent of 14,000 Baby Boxes at £500 each [the cost in the pilot study]. According to a Scottish Parliament research briefing around 50,000 EU citizens work in the catering and hospitality sector with much less security of employment and, usually, low wages.
This seems like another headline-grabbing stunt targeted at more accessible potential voters, not a genuine attempt to help people struggling to get on, desperate to stay in the UK, and often isolated from good advice on their status in the UK and how to fill in the forms.
And while I’m on the subject, the people with the real problems are the near 200,000 noneu citizens, many of whose longterm goal is to become UK citizens. This is a lengthy, complex process costing around £1,400 and any help with advice and money would be greatly appreciated.
Perhaps this is too expensive and not really promoting the “Brexit is a developing disaster” message but it would be a great help and send a positive message. You could help 25,000 people for the cost of one year’s Baby Boxes (£35m). ALLAN SUTHERLAND Willow Row, Stonehaven
In Kenny Macaskill’s Perspective article on tax (12 October), one point stands out. He declares that the middle classes have to pay for the universal benefits they receive in our country. Maybe we should stop and ask if they want these “freebies” they will pay dearly for? We have always cared for those who need help. People with long-term illnesses, the elderly, those on benefits and children received free prescriptions. Now they are free to all.
Would an MSP on a large salary prefer to pay a few pounds for an occasional prescription or a tax rise? Schoolchildren now receive “free” school meals in primaries one three, regardless of ability to pay. A few pounds in your pocket now but you will be paying for their meals until they leave school, plus those taxes. That Baby Box might look like a present but you are able to buy things for your bundle of joy yourself. Then there are family and friends handing you presents.
It is time that the spending of the SNP was scrutinised. Billions of pounds in debt and still the new schemes costing hundreds of millions are being lauded in front of the faithful. Taxes are there to pay for public services but those who pay should have a conversation about universal freebies. We must protect services and help those in need but it is time we thought about our culture of free to all regardless of ability to pay. If not, these people the SNP are about to target will pay dearly. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
DORIS MH DUFF Belmont Gardens, Edinburgh