Osborne and Swinney: balancing the books

George Osborne Image copyright Reuters
Image caption George Osborne's spending review has raised some interesting challenges for Holyrood

George Osborne says he aims to "fix the roof while the sun's shining". To help make the point, perhaps unwittingly, he's granted £5m to a refurb of the Burrell art gallery in Glasgow.

It has a very leaky roof, but this being November and the collection being in Glasgow, there's not much sun shining. Work is due to start early next year, lasting until 2019, at an estimated cost of £66m.

There are, of course, rather more significant Spending Review announcements on which to reflect. Here are some, as they affect Scotland.

Defrosting council tax

A lot of what the chancellor announces on such occasions is policy for England, or for England and Wales. There are financial consequences that feed through to the Barnett Formula block grant reaching Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But there are also policy consequences.

Devolution is under way in England. The chancellor says English local councils could raise more if they feel it's needed to meet their social care costs.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption John Swinney will be setting out his draft budget on 16 December

Read full article Osborne and Swinney: balancing the books

A new shape to the state

George Osborne Image copyright PA

The season of mists and low-hanging fruitfulness is past. The autumn statement has a more wintry chill to it this year.

That is because it is accompanied by George Osborne's second spending review, setting out the path of public spending and departmental allocations until 2019-20.

Read full article A new shape to the state

Rigging the frigates?

F35 Lightning II jet Image copyright PA
Image caption The Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) reports that purchase of new F35 Lightning II jets is to be speeded up

Strike brigades. Lightning and Typhoon squadrons. Poseidon surveillance. Hunter Killer submarines.

There's more.....

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If you don't shop, retailers drop

Shopping trolley Image copyright Thinkstock

Sluggish, disappointing and rather pallid: three ways of describing Scotland's latest retail figures. And they were from the retail industry people trying to look on the bright side.

With inflation just into negative territory - that is, consumer prices have dropped over the past year - it's not a disaster for retailers to have flat takings.

Read full article If you don't shop, retailers drop

Scotland's jobs stagnation

Jobcentre Plus Image copyright PA

Is it only the trouble in the oil and gas sector that is weighing on the Scottish economy? Or do recent job figures suggest something else is going on?

The data covering July to September repeats recent trends, of very strong job creation across most of the UK, but much weaker in Scotland.

Read full article Scotland's jobs stagnation

The New Highlands at 50

Highlands and Islands Development Board office

What has government ever done for us? Or Europe? Or immigrants? All questions that stand a good chance of starting an argument. Except in at least one part of Scotland.

It's 50 years this month since six staff started work for the Highlands and Islands Development Board.

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Slowing Scotland and the productivity puzzle

Scottish money Image copyright PA

The penny-wise Scot may be a stereotype, but the reality behind it may be costing us some economic growth.

It's one of the explanations offered for the failure of lower energy prices to feed through to strengthened demand elsewhere.

Read full article Slowing Scotland and the productivity puzzle

Forties at 40

Queen presses BP button Image copyright AP

In 63 and a bit years, the Queen's had a hand in much of the British economy; opening factories, bridges and the Border railway, launching ships, asking why no-one foresaw the financial crash, and adding her royal warrant to Deeside suppliers of Balmoral's comestibles and household sundries.

But the event that took her to Aberdeen 40 years ago was perhaps the most significant economic event in her reign.

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Steel yourself for an industrial strategy

Tata Steel plant in Motherwell Image copyright PA

There's a retro vibe afoot: the planned mothballing of two steel plants in Lanarkshire brings back the 1980s as if it were... well, 30 years ago.

Thousands upon thousands of local council jobs look like getting the axe due to the spending squeeze, yet 270 jobs rolling steel slabs get a task force, all hands are on deck to find a buyer, while the opposition calls for nationalisation.

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May the task force be with you

Locked factory gate Image copyright PA

When the going gets tough, it's time for a task force. But for what?

Such a force meets for the first time on Thursday. Its task is to save the Scottish steel industry. Or is it?

Read full article May the task force be with you