9 Section 6 - Paying for Progress
Question 46. Do you agree that there should be enabling provisions for Scottish Ministers to provide, through secondary legislation, for both direct and more generic charges for services/benefits arising from public sector services and activities?
|1. Public Bodies||10||0||2|
|3. Marine fisheries||1||4||1|
|4. Freshwater fisheries||37||3||10|
|5. Professional/Academic Bodies||0||2||1|
|6. Voluntary Sector||11||2||8|
|8. Other Commercial||0||2||3|
9.1 While many consultees supported the proposal for enabling powers to allow for charges for public services, there was strong opposition from the aquaculture and marine fisheries industries.
9.2 Some consultees felt that additional consultation should be undertaken on this issue. They asked for clarification of the services and benefits to be provided, as well as the charging regime.
9.3 The scale of this payment was the subject of much discussion. Freshwater fisheries respondents were concerned about generic charges, and asked for a proportionate approach to reflect the finances of DSFBs.
9.4 Concerns were raised about the ability to identify and attribute 'direct and exclusive benefits' and there was a view that activities 'for the common good' should be funded largely from general taxation.
9.5 Industry was concerned that they could be charged for 'additional public sector scrutiny' which they felt was neither necessary nor requested.
9.6 Some suggested use of a levy system based on applications made and service standards, along the lines of the SEPA model.
Question 47. If you do not agree that there should be
charging provisions, how do you envisage ongoing and new work to
assist in management and development of the aquaculture and
fisheries sectors should be resourced?
9.7 Aquaculture industry respondents felt that they were already doing some of this work, and were concerned about potential cost burdens. There was concern about any additional bureaucracy, and the potential duplication of existing work between the aquaculture and freshwater fisheries sectors.
9.8 Many respondents outside the aquaculture industry were reasonably supportive of using public funding for some activities, but opinions varied over what should be covered in this way.
9.9 Support was based on the assumption that there would be a need for fair charging of the aquaculture industry, along with recognition that the public should not subsidise private enterprise.
9.10 Some DSFB respondents were concerned about potential impacts of this proposal on their operations, particularly in financial and resource terms.
9.11 Several respondents felt that such charging should be considered on a case-by-case basis, and others felt that additional consultation was required prior to any changes to the current system.
9.12 Many aquaculture industry respondents questioned the current role of Marine Scotland, and requested a public review of its operations.
9.13 There were further suggestions for implementing a charging system, including an annually reviewed and agreed system and one modelled on CEFAS in England and Wales.
9.14 Two respondents suggested that rod licences could be a source of funding, but added that any income raised should be returned in proportion to the areas where it was raised.
9.15 Some respondents also suggested options for raising funds or cutting costs in addition, or as an alternative, to the proposal.
Question 48. If no new way of resourcing such activity can
be found, what activities do you suggest might be stopped to free
up necessary funds?
9.16 There was some support for the placement of additional charges on the aquaculture industry (i.e. higher fixed penalties, fees and licence charges). However, this support was not shared by the industry itself.
9.17 There was strong support amongst respondents for making savings through improving efficiency in governance. Suggestions included:
- Addressing duplication of activities between government and agencies.
- Closer liaison and co-ordination between stakeholders (i.e. SEPA, SNH, MSS, Local Authorities, DSFBs and the aquaculture industry).
- Discontinuing discretionary public sector services that the industry is unwilling to fund.
- The need for a better understanding of the roles and needs of both Marine Scotland and industry operators, and the services and benefits provided by the proposals was emphasised.Adoption of a national strategy for data collection was suggested.
- Several aquaculture industry respondents questioned the role of Marine Scotland, and suggested the following: i) separation of Marine Scotland research and FHI functions; ii) clear specification of FHI responsibilities and review of its role by an independent committee; and iii) independent review of Marine Scotland's research programmes to assess relevance and determine if they can be delivered more effectively and cost efficiently.