On Tuesday 7 March 2017, Alex Rowley, Depute Leader of Scottish Labour, put our Drop the Debt research up for debate at Holyrood. The response from the Scottish Government was, in a nutshell, that they consider the issues and points we raise to be both strong and valid. However, they do not believe that the Tories at Westminster will be forthcoming, therefore they are not even going to raise the issue with the UK Government.
What this means…
We need to campaign harder, we need to pile on the pressure. Reps will be running stalls in Glasgow and in Edinburgh over the coming weeks.
Unite CEC Branch Convener, Craig Cummings, who watched the debate at Holyrood, said
This is a strong campaign that we developed locally in Edinburgh and which has now gone nationwide. The fact is that Edinburgh Council is paying out £32 million per year in interest-only on pre-devolution debt liabilities held with the UK Treasury. We are fighting on many fronts to protect jobs and services and make advances where we can. However, real terms cuts to council budgets and rip off loan repayment rates are undermining council services.
We need the Scottish Government to get behind our calls for an amnesty on interest rate repayments to the UK Treasury. At a rate of over 8%, we have sent back £500 million in interest-only to the UK Treasury on liabilities of around £350 million since devolution in 1998 and we still need to settle the principle sums. Our message is clear and simple:
We have paid what we owe. Now we must prioritise local jobs and services.