The Unite Union have started a campaign to seek support from the Scottish Government to scrap all local authority debt.
Unite the Union estimate that local authority debt in Scotland is around £12.1 Billion Pounds, not counting PFI debt which is around £36 Billion Pounds, around £31 Billion Pounds is a result of Labour and Gordon Browns love affair with PFI which local authorities were forced to use to build new schools etc. Unite believe, not counting PFI debt, that around 44p in every £1 goes to debt repayment, around £2.5 Billion are pre-devolution debts with the treasury receiving £3.3 Billion Pounds in interest payments alone over the last 17 years.
These levels of debt are mind-boggling and highlight the shocking state of Scotland’s local government finances; the UK debt is around £1.6 Trillion and growing every second , for a country that has had Oil and Gas resources since the 70’s it beggars belief that we can be in debt at all. While the Westminster Government have cut public spending by around 6% of GDP since 2010 debt interest payment have increased to £53 Billion Pounds Per Year.
The UK has raised around $470 Billion Dollars since 1970 from Oil alone. So while Norway has an Oil fund of around £400 Billion Pounds by putting away some of the money for a rainy day (10%) per year roughly, Thatcher spent our gift in funding de-industrialisation and unemployment. Her decision to cut capital investment, privatised vital public services to her pals and starving local government of resources while providing the banks with the de-regulation they craved, supported in future years by Labour, helped allow the banks to virtually bankrupt the nation to the extent they had to be bailed out to the tune of £850 Billion Pounds of our money.
So while the Unite Union might be calling for a debt right off it is not going to happen. The simple reality is that since the 1970’s Scotland has suffered from the inept decision-making of Westminster Governments to the extent that the UK is probably in truth bankrupt and the people will continue to suffer as more and more cuts continue to rain down on us from above, well not above, but from the inept and breath-taking stupidity of a neo liberal approach to the economy which continues to see the gap between the rich and poor get larger every day.